Students immersed in manufacturing learning

"It’s really important to me"
Posted at 6:12 PM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 21:11:55-05

MAYVILLE, N.Y. (WKBW) — The future of manufacturing is going to rely heavily on a new generation of skilled workers.

Chautauqua Lake Central School District manufacturing program.

The Chautauqua Lake Central School District in Mayville has been working with some local manufacturers in creating a major manufacturing and STEM program for students.

The students enrolled in the manufacturing program are in control of machinery and equipment.

It is inside the school district’s high tech manufacturing lab were they are getting hands-on experience with plans to work in manufacturing in the future.

Jeffrey Bajdo, senior.

“I hope to be able to invent new technologies to make the world simpler safer better,” Jeffrey Bajdo, senior.

Bajdo is working with a robot named Baxter. He tells me he loves working in the technical field and the program is giving him a big opportunity as he plans to head to RIT for college.

Student in manufacturing lab.

“We have little Henry Ford's and Thomas Edison's all around us — if we just get them exposed,” remarked Jay Baker, CEO, Jamestown Plastic.

Baker helped create the program with Randy Stuart, founder, Stuart Tool & Die.

Baker says it all started as a 'lunch club' about a decade ago and has now has turned into a large manufacturing-like facility for student learning.

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Jay Baker, CEO, Jamestown Plastic.

“From a very small, very rudimentary program that has blossomed because the school district has embraced it,” reflected Baker.

Baker says the manufacturing industry is reaching a crisis stage when it comes hiring skilled labor.

“We’re real close to it. We’re about one more cycle of retirements where it is going to be very difficult to keep basic manufacturing surviving and thriving in the United States,” Baker responded.

Owen Nelson, senior, is interested in welding and fabricating metal and the engineering field.

Owen Nelson, senior.

“If I didn't have this then, I don't if I would want to go to somewhere like RIT because I would have to pay a lot of money to use all their equipment and this allows me to use the equipment for free and figure out that I enjoy it,” Nelson explained.

“It’s really fun. It just clears my mind — I get to do something I like,” noted Jasmine Hawkins, sophomore.

Hawkins is very interested in welding.

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Jasmine Hawkins, sophomore.

“I’ve always interested in it. My dad welds stuff. I thought it was really cool. I actually want to be working at construction and building houses but I also want to do something with welding,” said Hawkins.

“These kids have a very bright future whether they are going to college or whether they are going into the workforce — the future is really bright for them,” responded Dr. Josh Liddell, superintendent. “We’re so proud — the last ten years we’ve had a variety of individuals help get this program up and running.”

Dr. Josh Liddell, superintendent, Chautauqua Lake Central School District.

Chautauqua Lake Schools Superintendent Liddell says this program allows students to select a pathway toward college with credits or decide to go straight into the workforce.

“Students can take upwards of nine classes right now, 27 college credits, but we also have another pathway which kids can go into the workforce and have a great foundation to get a high paying skilled job,” described Liddell.

Elizabeth Hammond, sophomore.

“I’ve talked to friends outside of my school — they don't have the opportunities we do and it's just amazing to have the opportunity that we have especially into the career. I already have the classes that I need,” said Elizabeth Hammond, sophomore. “It’s really important to me.”

The program is also open to students in 16 other districts nearby.

Chautauqua Lake Central School District manufacturing lab.

“When I come in here, I’m floating on cloud nine. I’m seeing young men and women doing something they are passionate about that they love that they are engaged in,” Baker declared.

The school district plans to expand the manufacturing lab in the future.