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Jobs of the future – right in our own backyard


Imagine going to a restaurant and trying to order without a menu. That would be difficult to do not knowing what the options are.

photo of woman speaking to students

Elizabeth Rossi, K-12 Outreach Director at SUNY POLY discussed nanotechnology and jobs available with the Nano Utica Initiative at SUNY POLY with Jarvis and CVA students

Students at Central Valley are faced with a similar dilemma. What should I do after high school? What are my options?  How will I know what to do?  There is no menu to look at, how will I get there?

To help answer these questions, Jarvis Middle School and Central Valley Academy have been letting students know a little more about various careers available. Once students know what path they want to take, guidance counselors and teachers can help guide them to become successful as graduates, whether they plan to attend college, trade school or enter the workforce.

On April 28 Jarvis MS and CVA students learned about future jobs in nanotechnology coming to our own back yard – Governor Cuomo’s Nano Utica initiative at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY POLY) complex in Utica. The initiative is a partnership between Advanced Nanotechnology Solutions Incorporated (ANS), Atotech, and SEMATECH; and CNSE partners, including IBM, Lam Research and Tokyo Electron. Various positions will be available from cleanroom technicians and research, maintenance, clerical to administrative staff. These are all jobs Central Valley graduates could be perfect for.

Photo of CVA Nano Presentation 4/28/15

Elizabeth Rossi, K-12 Outreach Director at SUNY POLY holds a replica of graphine, a super material made up of carbon materials

What is nanotechnology and how is it used?

Elizabeth Rossi, K-12 Outreach Director at SUNY POLY explained what nanotechnology is, how it is used today and some of the research it involves. Many of the kids may not realize the innovation that has taken place over the years as it relates to nanotechnology in their everyday life. Computer chips have become smaller, faster, run cooler and are used for smartphones, advances in energy and power help provide greener technologies.

Graphene is a super material made up of carbon molecules and has many possible uses such as replacing the silicon computer chip, electronic paper, flexible electronic devices, liquid crystal displays, super-capacitor for energy storage, to enhance lithium-ion batters and as an infrastructure material to scaffold other materials onto.

Medical researchers are looking to use nanotechnology as a form of medication delivery in the form of a “buckyball” which can potentially carry medication through the bloodstream and attack only the infected area (such as cancer cells) instead of the entire system. “Nanotubes” are conductive pipes that can carry electricity from the point of origin to the destination with less waste along the way increasing efficiency.

Elizabeth Rossi asked the student body, “Wouldn’t it be great to take all the bad carbons out of the environment and use them for good?”

What kind of jobs are available?

Nano Utica, also known as Quad-C, will offer opportunities for students in various areas of studies. Ms. Rossi was eager to inform the students there could be a job for you regardless of your interests, it’s not just research scientists and engineers. Opportunities will be available to the health care, business, communications, STEM, humanities and social sciences students. Ms. Rossi explained that every student could have an opportunity to work there. She said, “Math skills, science skills, they can all be learned just like gymnastics, skateboarding and music.

“You can learn skills to take you to the place you want to be.” she added.

Photo of CVA Nano Presentation

Mark Barbano, Regional Economist of the New York State Department of Labor questions CVA students Justin Jones and Vanessa Gleba.

Mark Barbano, Regional Economist of the New York State Department of Labor showed students the differences in pay-scale across occupations in the Mohawk Valley. The median pay would be $32, 970 but the median pay in a STEM occupation is $59,766. He explained there are many companies that develop and manufacture items for electronics have difficulty filling positions.

“Companies that develop and manufacture items for electronics such as Indium Corporation right nearby in Utica want to hire you,” he said, “they cannot find engineers to fill open positions.”

Photo of CVA Nano Presentation 4/28/15

CVA Student Lauren Gravelding dressed for work in the clean room holding a wafer full of silicone computer chips.

Ms. Rossi showed a silicone disk known as a “wafer” that holds computer chips which are sold to other companies. These are manufactured in clean rooms. Working in a clean room requires you to wear a “bunny suit” so that nothing is transferred from the outside environment. Before stepping into the clean room you enter a separate a chamber to cover shoes. At each assembly a volunteer was selected to dress for the clean room giving the students a first hand visual of what it is like to work there.

What can I do now?

On a final note, Ms. Rossi offered students the following advice on what they can do now to prepare for STEM careers and become successful life-long learners.

  • School is free for you – get ever bit of this free education that you can.
  • Reflect on your passion; find the links to STEM to help make your school work meaningful.
  • Collaborate with your peers to do something service-oriented and real-world.
  • Take your mind seriously – you are smart and young and valued.