#FLCC, ITT Goulds celebrate ‘artisans of the 21st century’

Leslie Harris tried out college a few times and decided that it wasn’t for her before settling into a career as a winemaker’s assistant for 13 years.

Then, earlier this year, her father, Jerry Dilts, suggested she try something different – a six-month job training program at his longtime workplace, ITT Goulds Pumps in Seneca Falls. “He knows I’ve always been a creator, a hands-on type person,” she said. “I figured I’d try it out.”

Six months later, Harris is among the latest graduates of the advanced manufacturing machinist job training program that has ITT Goulds Pumps partnered with Finger Lakes Community College.

Harris and fellow graduates were celebrated Friday, Sept. 21, with a luncheon and ceremony at The Gould Hotel in Seneca Falls. FLCC President Robert K. Nye, ITT Goulds Pumps General Manager Christopher Klasner, FLCC Director of Workforce Development Marcy Lynch, U.S. Rep. Tom Reed and state Sen. Pam Helming were among those in attendance.

“With this certificate, you have positioned yourself very well, in my humble opinion, as I’ve walked with CEOs across this country,” Reed told the graduates, explaining that he sees continued demand for manufacturing workers.

Helming echoed his sentiments. “In the last two months I’ve been touring around my six-county district with Workforce Development Institute representatives – there are job openings everywhere,” she said. “You are entering this field at a fantastic time, at a time when we really and truly need you.”

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 the Rochester and Finger Lakes areas.

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.

The most recent class got to learn on two new machines, a Hass Toolroom CNC mill and Haas Toolroom CNC lathe. Both were purchased with $68,000 in funding that Helming helped secure through the state Dormitory Authority. The Seneca County IDA supplied additional funding to cover shipping and rigging costs for the new equipment, used exclusively used by students in the program.

Mathew Temple of Waterloo spoke to classmates at the graduation ceremony, acknowledging the hard work that went into their achievement. Some juggled full-time jobs and other family responsibilities while in the program. “This sacrifice has paid off with a great reward to all of us,” he said. “Right now, we are all on our way to beginning our new careers in machining.”

Nye, the FLCC president, reminded the graduates to thank those family and friends who supported them on the journey, and urged them to be life-long learners and seek new opportunities. “Go back and ask for more responsibility – I guarantee if you do that, you will be recognized and you will go do great things,” he said. “You are the artisans of the 21st century. You are going to be making great things that go into other, bigger things that drive our economy.”

Eight of the nine graduates, including Harris and Temple, have been hired to work at ITT Goulds Pumps. The ninth graduate has accepted a position at Abtex Corporation is Dresden, Yates County.

Harris said she’s “very, very glad” she took her father’s advice and enrolled in the program. “I would recommend it to everyone,” she added, noting that the support of her classmates, friends and family – including husband, Bret, carried her through to graduation.

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