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Gillibrand Touts Importance Of STEM Education On Visit To Community College

Lucas Willard

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today toured Fulton Montgomery Community College to visit a program focused on nanotechnology. The New York Democrat is advocating for STEM education among women and minorities.

Senator Gillibrand visited FMCC’s Center for Engineering and Technology, Electrical Technology – Nanotechnology program. She spoke with students about the importance of STEM education at a school that is geographically positioned between two nanotechnology hubs – SUNY IT’s Nano Utica and Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

Gillibrand said that eight out of nine jobs in demand that will drive the economy forward in New York relate to the STEM fields, and she spoke about the importance of not only receiving education at the college level, but starting at an early age – particularly for women and minorities.

"Our long term goal is just to encourage women and minorities as young girls and boys to say, 'I can build things, I'm good at math, I'm good at science - I can change the world,' and that's exactly what we're hoping to accomplish," said the senator.

Using GlobalFoundries’ semiconductor manufacturing facility in Malta as an example, Gillbrand said that upstate New York is poised to become the next Silicon Valley.

"We have the best workers in the world, we already know that. And given the right training we can do any job. And these are the jobs that are growing, these are the jobs that are more-higher paid, these are the jobs that lend itself to long careers and career development," said Gillibrand. "I was just so inspired by the students that are in the other room because they're all at the beginning of this extraordinarily exciting opportunity for a career in an industry that's going to be growing for the next hundred years."

Jim Landrio, chairman of the board of trustees at Fulton-Montgomery Community College, said the Senator’s visit gives the school some well-deserved recognition of its nanotechnology program. He said the location of the school gives local students the opportunity to train for area jobs and expand their education once they graduate.

"We have the best of both worlds on both sides of us so we really feel like the future is going to be here," said Landrio.

Aaron White graduated from the program at FMCC last spring and is currently attending SUNY IT in Utica for his bachelor’s in electrical engineering. He said the ability to get hands-on experience working in a clean-room environment while enrolled in community college gives him an advantage while pursuing his four-year degree.

"I have to say that without this, I've noticed that people who are transferring in from other colleges have not had the same experience that we have had here with the cleanroom, so I'm really grateful for that, most definitely."

White said that he believes that his prospects for employment once he graduates are looking great. White said representatives from GlobalFoundries and IBM have met with students at career fairs.

enator Gillibrand also made stops at a sustainable/urban farming program for youths in Middleburgh and a small business/entrenpreneurship program at Westchester Community College.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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