January 20, 2022

TC3 grants aid 4 labs

Funds to help students prepare for science, tech jobs

Photo provided by Tompkins Cortland Community College

Ogoumi Real checks samples in a laboratory at Tompkins Cortland Community College. The college recently got a $3.1 million grant to update the labs with new equipment and designs, and more money to hire faculty to expand its science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.

DRYDEN

– The $3.1 million in grants Tompkins Cortland Community College will spend won’t just upgrade four laboratories.

They’ll upgrade partnerships with manufacturers in science and technology fields who would employ the graduates.

In addition to the $3.1 million grant from the State University of New York, another $289,500 grant from SUNY will help TC3 hire more faculty to expand science and technology courses.

The laboratories are more than 20 years old and need better equipment and space, Associate Provost Malvika Talwar said Wednesday.

“That’s especially true for our physics, chemistry and engineering labs,” she said. “We also have a construction lab and drafting space.”

The college is planning the work and will not be ready to request proposals from renovation experts for at least a few months, Talwar said. But the plans will be finalized this year.

“We are really in the early stages,” she said. An architect will be hired in the spring.

The upgrades will bring the labs up to the industry standards and requirements for best teaching practices, Talwar said.

The college is looking to buy new computers, software, equipment, drafting tables and other items, as well as redesigning the lab spaces.

The improvements will give students the tools they need to train to enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics job fields, Talwar said.

“Students can learn construction management,” she said, using that associate degree as an example. “Students would learn how to test concrete and other materials they would use in construction.”

“We are very interested in helping our local communities with their workforce efforts,” Talwar said.

The college is partnering with nine businesses to help train students for STEM jobs, with more expected to join, said Peter Voorhees, TC3’s public information officer:

  • BorgWarner.
  • Capro-X.
  • Cargill.
  • FYT Fuels.
  • Pyrotek.
  • Square Deal Machining.
  • Stork H&E Turbo Blading.
  • Therm, Inc.
  • Transonic Systems.

“The workforce data shows the counties (Cortland and Tompkins) need this,” Talwar said. “There is an alignment. The timing is right for that.”

Many manufacturers, such as Pyrotek, BorgWarner and Square Deal Machining, are hungry for well-trained job applicants, said Bob Haight, president of the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce. Young people especially need to be told about the opportunities.

“Many have great entry-level jobs where people can advance,” Haight said, and TC3 classes funded through the new grant can prepare students for them.

“You can change, pivot and retrain with us,” Talwar said.

“That is, in my mind, the next perfect step in workforce development,” Haight said.