After graduating from Penn Yan high school, Ross Kircher enrolled in college but found it wasn’t for him. He went to work full-time at a winery owned by family friends. After 12 years on the customer service side of the business, Kircher wanted to do something more hands-on.
“I felt like I had hit a ceiling, and I started looking at trade professions,” Kircher said. “I was looking for something with good turnaround, without a lot of investment.”
His father suggested the advanced manufacturing machining training program offered by Finger Lakes Community College in partnership with ITT Goulds Pumps. After one of his friends completed it and quickly found work, Kircher decided to give it a go.
That was last spring. This past September, Kircher stood at a podium in The Gould Hotel in Seneca Falls to give remarks at a celebratory luncheon for graduates of the program.
“This program has been an excellent learning experience,” he said, adding that each of his fellow graduates deserve a “pat on the back” for tackling lessons in trigonometry and blue prints while learning how to operate high-tech equipment.
In addition to Kircher, speakers at the event included FLCC President Robert Nye; Christopher Klasner, general manager at ITT Goulds Pumps; Todd Sloane, FLCC director of workforce development; and Bob Anderson, executive director of the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency. Representatives from the office of U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-23rd District, attended the ceremony.
The advanced manufacturing machinist training program is an expansion of FLCC’s partnership with another manufacturer, G.W. Lisk Co. in Clifton Springs. Both programs were created to address the shortage of machinists in modern, computerized manufacturing facilities in Rochester and the Finger Lakes.
The first class of machinist students from ITT Goulds graduated in September 2015. The program consists of classroom and hands-on work in topics such as technical math, robotics, and CNC mill and lathe operation.
Kircher said he has found satisfaction in the new field.
“You’re operating this expensive piece of machinery and it’s in the background,” he said. “Not a lot of people know what machinists are, yet, you play a really important role in everyone’s daily lives.”
Five of the 10 graduates, including Kircher, accepted positions to work at ITT Goulds Pumps. Two accepted positions WMT Precision in Auburn and ValveTech in Phelps. Three are in the process of interviewing and reviewing offers.
This year’s graduates are Brent DeBois, of Auburn; Mark Pohlman, Anthony Pellicano and Stephen Smith, of Canandaigua; Joanne Bailey, of Clyde; Kircher, of Penn Yan; Kenneth Fegley and Christopher Fountaine, of Seneca Falls; Andrew Everett, of Waterloo; and Mustafizur Rahman, of Victor.
Call 585-785-1906 or email andrea.badger@flcc.edu for information about the program.