By JAIME STUDD
For the Express
JOHNSTOWN — Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger led U.S. Reps. Paul Tonko and Bill Owens on a guided tour of some of the institution’s most innovative facilities Thursday morning, proudly spotlighting the college’s state-of-the-art Center for Engineering and Technology.
The three were joined on the tour by members of the F-MCC Board of Trustees and several faculty and staff.
Dedicated to training students for the some of the most technologically advanced jobs, like those available at General Electric and Global Foundries, FMCC’s Center for Engineering and Technology is a collaboration of technical and science programs, featuring classrooms, laboratories and a brand new clean room and automated manufacturing lab.
“All of this automation is already expressing itself in real dimensions,” said Tonko, D-Amsterdam, referencing the growing number of companies in the area specializing in highly advanced technologies. “All of these groups require state-of-the art skill sets.”
The congressmen stressed the importance of investments in higher education, work force training and research and development as critical to job creation.
According to Tonko and Owens, D-Plattsburgh, centers on the forefront of advancing technology, like the one at FMCC, are essential to equipping the future work force with the skills necessary to succeed in advanced manufacturing and technology-driven careers.
Having helped to secure funds for the creation of the CET, Tonko took a special interest in its offerings and the extraordinary need it fulfills.
“For Bill and myself, to create jobs is only the start of the story. You have to have quality workers,” said Tonko. “You have to give the people in the community the best chance at being marketable and this does it.”
Owens stressed the crucial role research and development will play in rebuilding America’s work force and recouping the millions of jobs lost over the last few years.
“We lost 8.2 million jobs in the last recession,” said Owens. “That’s a painful hole out of which to climb.
“We create jobs by the sophistication of ideas and fostering, culturing and nurturing that brainpower,” Owens continued. “Where R&D is invested, manufacturing takes hold.”
The CET functions in numerous capacities at the college, not the least of which is enabling the school to offer an Associate’s Degree in Electrical Technology.
According to Amy Radik, coordinator of Public Relations and Marketing for F-MCC, the majority of the program’s most recent graduates have already found jobs at GlobalFoundries.
Referring to the CET, Owens said, “It’s responding to real job need. It’s a real job creation activity and I think that’s one of the most important functions of a community college.”
Tonko agreed, saying “I see it as a very worthy investment.”