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Students learn about manufacturing during Beech-Nut tour

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Students in the Robotics and Engineering Technology program at the HFM Career and Technical Center and PTECH recently visited Beech-Nut Corp. in Amsterdam to get an in-depth look at their state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. The tour coincided with the celebration of October as Manufacturing Month, a time to recognize and promote the importance of U.S. manufacturing within the global marketplace.

While on the tour, students learned all about the manufacturing and automation processes of this innovative leader in the U.S. baby food industry.  Beech-Nut has been around since 1891, and has been making baby food in upstate New York since 1931. Their engineers patented the vacuum-sealed jar process that’s now the safety standard in the industry.

Zac Carrico, who teaches the Robotics and Engineering Technology program at the HFM Career & Technical Center and the Advanced Manufacturing class at PTECH, commented that the tour was a great opportunity for his students to see how automation has contributed to the comeback the manufacturing industry is making in the U.S.

“Automation has transformed many dangerous or repetitive tasks. Walking onto a business partner’s production floor, students were able to see clean workspaces and work that infers ‘career’ rather than just ‘job’,” he stated.

According to the International Trade Administration, U.S. manufacturing contributes $2.65 trillion to the U.S. economy, employs nearly 13 million American workers, and accounts for more than 10 percent of the nation’s GDP. Despite the setbacks the industry faced at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York State’s manufacturing sector has experienced a resurgence and is in the midst of a major renaissance.

Carrico believes that his students in the Robotics and Engineering program and Advanced Manufacturing class could be perfect matches to continue filling roles in New York’s growing manufacturing field.

“For years there has been a growing need for technical “middle skills” jobs; those that require more education than a high school diploma requires, but less than a four-year degree, and our students are well prepared to pursue these careers or continue to a four-year degree in many engineering fields,” he stated.

Jake Ringer, a senior from Johnstown, said that his experience touring Beech-Nut was impressive.

“I got to see a lot of high-end machinery up close and in detail and see how their manufacturing process works,” he said.

HFM BOCES partnership with Beech-Nut supports regional economic growth and workforce development initiatives. Along with workplace tours, Beech-Nut contributes to professional skills training, workplace experiences, job shadows, internships and more.