College will develop innovative Agricultural Engineering Mobile Training Unit, and form connections between students, educators, and industry.

A Diesel Technology and Power Machinery Training grant award of more than $1.9 million from the US Department of Labor is reinforcing SUNY Cobleskill’s ability to develop skilled members of the workforce, and enhance opportunities for students. The grant will support initiatives in the College’s Agricultural Engineering Department, and aims to fortify the equipment distributor technician employment pipeline by establishing partnerships linking employers with technical educators and students. The resulting network will increase job visibility, create new opportunities for dealers to sponsor students, and lead to an overall improvement in the quality and quantity of Associate-degree graduates qualified to pursue equipment distributor technician positions.

The grant will specifically allow SUNY Cobleskill to purchase and outfit a mobile training unit to be used principally for recruitment and skills development. Funds will also support three new positions, including a project director, outreach instructor, and technical support technician. Projects stemming from the grant will target three distinct audiences: equipment dealers, technology instructors, and high school students. Commencing at the start of this month, the three year grant ends in September 2022.

“This award further secures SUNY Cobleskill’s position at the center of workforce development, in an industry in which it is essential to develop qualified professionals in educational settings” says College President Marion A. Terenzio. “By establishing new opportunities for students, we are better-preparing them to achieve immediate and long-lasting success. We thank the US Department of Labor for its support in allowing us to commence the initiatives that will help us reach new learners in vital sectors of the agricultural engineering field.”

The country’s heavy equipment distribution industry loses more than $2 billion each year as a result of dealers’ inability to find and retain workers possessing necessary skills and trainings, reflecting a significant skills gap. Associated Equipment Distributors (AED), representing over 800 companies, found in a 2019 survey of members that there were more than 1,800 technician position openings in the Northeast. SUNY Cobleskill is an AED-accredited diesel technology and agriculture power machinery education provider, with approximately 50 percent of students entering the College’s Diesel Technology Program sponsored by a licensed dealer. Institutional data indicate students with a dealer sponsorship have a higher rate of college completion and post- degree employment; in the past five years, applications and enrollment in the heavy equipment technician programs have steadily increased.

“In working closely with our Agricultural Engineering Department faculty, we are confident we have identified the types of targeted, informational messages and consultations we need to deliver to students, secondary school educators and counselors, and parents,” says College Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Susan Zimmermann. “This grant maximizes our ability to reach that audience, as well as work closely with dealers and industry to create pathways.” Our Agricultural Engineering Department fosters numerous connections with industry professionals and high school educators, and we know the value of a SUNY Cobleskill Associate’s degree as it relates to achieving industry employment and success.” Chair of the Agricultural Engineering Department, Doug Hammond, worked in close collaboration with AED, gathering insights applicable to the grant application and award, as well as the deliverables the College plans to achieve.


The College will host individual conferences convening equipment dealers, and technical educators, to inform both groups of the upcoming projects aimed at workforce development that this grant award supports. SUNY Cobleskill will also facilitate meetings, trainings, and outreach events with technology instructors, students, and equipment dealers – including onsite technical training using its mobile training unit. Additionally, SUNY Cobleskill will produce an equipment technician curriculum to disseminate to New York State technology instructors; secondary school students will receive this education and training at their school and/or BOCES.

“This award further secures SUNY Cobleskill’s position at the center of workforce development, in an industry in which it is essential to develop qualified professionals in educational settings. By establishing new opportunities for students, we are better-preparing them to achieve immediate and long-lasting success.” – President Marion A. Terenzio

SUNY Cobleskill’s grant award is part of the US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration’s demonstration of workforce development efforts, through the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) grant initiative. The 18 recipients are accepting funds that are awarded in collaboration with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and Delta Regional Authority (DRA). SUNY Cobleskill is among ARC grantees.

 

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A version of this release was initially published by SUNY Cobleskill, 10/03/19