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HFM Engineering Technology students assist at statewide conference

Seniors in the Engineering Technology program at the HFM Career and Technical Center recently participated in a statewide conference demonstrating how teachers can use robotics to help build student interest in middle-skills career fields.

On March 21, the students accompanied HFM Instructor Zac Carrico and Fulton-Montgomery Community College Assistant Professor Jeremy Spraggs to the 56th Annual Conference of the New York State Technology and Engineering Educators Association at Onondaga Community College. During the conference, Carrico and Spraggs hosted presentations on how inexpensive robots can be used in classroom instruction and pique interest in middle-skills careers.

four people sit around a table assembling a small robot.

HFM Engineering Technology seniors Kacy Dominique and John Hayes, both of Broadalbin-Perth, and HFM math teacher Ryan England, right, teach a technology teacher how to build a Trilobot robot at the New York State Technology and Engineering Educators Association Conference March 21.

Middle-skill jobs are those that require some education and training after high school but not necessarily a four-year degree. Many experts say there is a “middle skills gap,” and many fields are unable to find employees to fill these jobs.

During the presentation, the HFM students helped teachers from across the state build small Trilobot snap action switch robots. The lesson demonstrates the role of switches in controlling current flow in a circuit to teach basic electrical circuit analysis and industrial control systems/robotics.

“This hands-on lesson can get students thinking about how motor control is used in high-technology industries and help foster interest in careers as well-trained technicians,” Carrico said. “There’s a huge demand for workers in these high-paying career pathways.”

Seven people stand for a group shot.

HFM Engineering Technology Instructor Zac Carrico, left, and FMCC Assistant Professor Jeremy Spraggs with HFM engineering seniors during the conference.

The trip to the conference and the robotics kits were funded by a grant Carrico and Spraggs secured through the National Science Foundation to help create local opportunities to build interest in careers in the high technology workforce.

The HFM Engineering Technology program is a collaborative partnership with HFM BOCES, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, and the National Science Foundation. Students receive STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) instruction focusing on career exploration in current and emerging technologies, and also apply college-level algebra, physics, and engineering principles.

During the two-year course, which is open to HFM area juniors and seniors, students can earn 25 college credits and be prepared to complete their associate degree in Electrical Technology at FMCC in one additional year.

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