opens career pathway from high school to college
HFM BOCES and Fulton-Montgomery Community College
combine resources to create engineering technology
program for area high school students
BOCES students enrolled in the new engineering technology
program can earn college credits as they complete a two-year,
project-based curriculum steeped in nanotechnology and
semiconductor manufacturing. A National Science Foundation grant
helped create a seamless technician-career pathway between high
school and college.
The three-year, $625,000 Technological Education Pathways
Partnership (TEPP) grant was awarded to the collaborative
application of HFM BOCES and its neighbor, Fulton-Montgomery
The proposal envisioned a program that would equip high school
students with the STEM skills and technical expertise to move
successfully into the associate’s degree program at FMCC. The
college’s electrical technology graduates are job-ready to land
positions at Global Foundries or one of the many high tech
industries taking root in Tech Valley, thanks to FMCC’s Center
for Engineering and Technology.
2010, FMCC unveiled a state-of-the-art demonstration clean room
as the newest addition to the Center. Along with the clean room,
the college utilized NSF funding to enhance its electronic and
robotics labs, providing facilities for students preparing for
careers in nanotechnology and the semiconductor industry.
According to HFM BOCES curriculum specialist Mark Tanner, the
hands-on access to the clean room, electron and atomic
microscopes, robotics equipment and other high tech “tools” is a
circumstance few individual school districts could even dream
about for their students. Tanner credits the BOCES-FMCC
collaboration as the only avenue for high school juniors and
seniors to get this opportunity.
BOCES’ mission is to provide cooperative services that assist
school districts in helping their students find success. Today,
educators face the challenge of preparing tech-savvy students
for a rapidly evolving world dominated by technology. Teaching
21st century skills that students need to deal with massive
amounts of information and succeed in a global society does not
mean backing away from traditional basics such as reading, math
According to Tanner, there is a need regionally for a workforce
equipped with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
(STEM) skills. The high-tech companies settling in Tech Valley
expect to hire employees with a certain level of skill and
training, something that has made area high schools and colleges
However, the speed and complexity of technological change, and
the pressing need to prepare students today for success after
high school, can outstrip the capacity of many school districts
wrestling with an evolving mix of stricter standards, increased
accountability and serious economic concerns.
“We actively seek out every effort to collaborate if it creates
opportunity for our young people,” Tanner said. “The TEPP grant
enabled collaboration between HFM BOCES and FMCC that answers
the need we heard from industry for local students who have the
right mix of math and science skills to meet their needs.”
Tanner, along with HFM BOCES Career & Technical Center Director
Jay DeTraglia and FMCC Professor Rich Prestopnik—who helped
secure funding to build FMCC’s Center for Engineering and
Technology—pursued a National Science Foundation grant to create
the engineering technology program for HFM BOCES.
for the program was also developed collaboratively from scratch.
A nine-member team of high school math and science teachers from
HFM component school districts and FMCC professors designed the
curriculum with a heavy emphasis on 21st Century skills, meaning
students acquire technical knowledge while sharpening critical
thinking and problem-solving skills, developing teamwork and
communication abilities, and analyzing and mastering complex
systems in search of innovative solutions.
An advisory committee made up of industry and education
representatives from GE Global Research Center, Global
Foundries, the University at Albany, Workforce Consortium for
Emerging Technologies, SUNY-IT, and local high schools and
businesses reviewed the curriculum.
Juniors and seniors in HFM BOCES’ engineering technology program
study under the instruction of Edward Lakata, a veteran engineer
with more than 30 years of field experience, while spending a
portion of their instructional time utilizing the community
college’s facilities to complete their projects.
Many programs offered by HFM BOCES Career and Technical
Education Center allow students to earn college credit with
community colleges, universities, and technical schools. These
articulation agreements result in the awarding of college credit
to students who successfully complete their CTC curriculum. The
credits are available at no cost to students who enroll full
time at the colleges and trade schools with which the agreements
Tanner and a team associated with HFM BOCES’ engineering
technology program traveled to Washington, D.C. in October to
present their grant at a National Science Foundation conference.
Learn more about HFM BOCES’ Engineering Technology program