Burgard’s Advanced Manufacturing program gets state boost

Jul 28, 2017

New York State is investing in a Buffalo school to prepare students for future manufacturing careers.  Empire State Development is providing a $3.2 million from the Buffalo Billion initiative to Burgard High School's Advanced Manufacturing program. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says even though students are on summer break, they were at the school to demonstrate the program.

Burgard junior Mariah Shelton demonstrates her welding skills.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Students at Burgard showed of their welding skills to Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul as she toured their school. Alfred College is leading the expansion project to create a new, state-of-the-art welding lab and renovations to the Machine Tool and Auto Lab at the school.

Burgard junior Mariah Shelton is very interested in becoming a future welder.

“It’s just fun and then there’s not much females – there’s not much girls in the class – it’s all mainly boys,” remarked Shelton. 

Lt. Gov. Hochul encouraged students to stay focused noting new manufacturing jobs are in need of skilled workers.  

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks with a Burgard student in the automotive shop.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“Now we have excess jobs and limited people, now that’s a good problem to have because we can solve it. Programs like this will solve this, but the challenge is – is to get the word out,” Hochul said.

Burgard principal Charlene Watson arrived three-years ago and has been working hard to change the climate and culture at the school for student success.

“Employers are over here all the time looking to hire students for auto technicians, welders and machinist,” Watson explained   

Tom Murphy, Burgard principal Charlene Watson & assistant principal Tracey Travis discuss the program.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The Advanced Manufacturing Program has helped keep Burgard students on track to graduate and earn college credits at Alfred. Tom Murphy is a special projects manager at Alfred State.

“By the time the students are finished, they will have completed, at graduation their senior year, their first semester of college, which will be them a semester ahead of their peers at graduation,” Murphy remarked.

Torreona Clayton, Burgard junior., is interested in manufacturing, said she wants to attend Alfred. 

"I want to get a degree in this because it is something I like to do," Clayton said.  Clayton scored a 92 on a math exam, giving her an edge in the program.

"Math is my favorite subject. I've always loved math," Clayton declared.

It is projected by the year 2020 there will be 17,000 advanced manufacturing jobs in welding, auto-tech and machine tool in the Buffalo Niagara region.