Continuing Collaboration: FLCC and LISK partnership turns out fourth graduating class
March 23, 2015 – After 23 years in the Army, Joshua Jensen faced a dilemma numerous military personnel encounter when returning to civilian life: Trying to find a job with a good wage.
Like many before him, he found it wasn’t easy. “After I retired, I looked for a job and did a lot of kicking around trying to find something decent,” Jensen said. “I got a position with [G.W.] Lisk at its facility in Phelps as a stockroom supervisor.”
It was there that he learned of the company’s partnership with Finger Lakes Community College, a joint effort aimed at creating an advanced manufacturing workforce.
Jensen was one of 13 people to receive certificates Thursday during a graduation ceremony at Warfield’s Restaurant.
“I heard about this program, and it was an advancement with more growth potential,” said Jensen, who was born and raised in Phelps and is a 1988 graduate of DeSales High School in Geneva. “I applied for the program and got in.”
The sixth-month machinist training program is a 4-year-old partnership between the college and Clifton Springs-based G.W. Lisk Co. Officials said the expansion of advanced manufacturing — essentially, it’s a field in which computers are used to produce high-precision components — in the Rochester region has led to a shortage of skilled workers in recent years.
The collaboration with Lisk is one of several in which FLCC is involved. The college has expanded its advanced manufacturing machinist program through a partnership with ITT Goulds in Seneca Falls.
In the program, students learn through classroom and hands-on instruction how to use machine tools to make components for the automotive, aerospace and medical industries.
FLCC also offers a 12-week mechatronics program in Victor — it provides training in mechanical and electronic fundamentals common to many employers — and a nine-week advanced manufacturing operator program, at the FLCC main campus. The latter is designed to serve the needs of local packaging makers.
“Programs like these help rebuild American manufacturing,” said Lynn Freid, director of workforce development for FLCC. “Producing skilled workers is good for these graduates, good for the community and good for the companies.”
Thursday’s group marked the fourth graduating class of the FLCC/Lisk program. Ed Maier, president of G.W. Lisk, said nine of the 13 graduates will be working for Lisk, and the others either have jobs with other companies or offers.
Maier noted that one of the graduates, Kyle Lemley of Irondequoit, did the program after working the overnight shift at Rochester General Hospital. He and Jensen now have full-time manufacturing jobs with Lisk.
“He did look tired a few times, but never missed a day,” Maier said.
“Young efforts demonstrate what this program is all about,” Maier added while speaking to Lemley, then shifting to all graduates. “All of you have opened new doors for a career.”
Lemley, who worked in environmental services at RGH, said a hospital co-worker told him about the program.
“I came to the orientation and found out the program was at 8 a.m. … so every day it was go to work at 11, get out at 7, drive down here,” he said. “There were days I was tired, but you do what you have to. I always wanted to do something with my hands, so this was a good fit.”
Another graduate who landed a job at Lisk: Jameson Case, a recent Marcus Whitman graduate who studied mechanical engineering for a year at Alfred University.
“I heard about this over the summer, and it sounded like something right up my alley,” he said. “I wanted to do something with math and science, and this caught my eye.
“I know a bunch of people at Lisk, and everyone I talked to has been here for 20, 25 years. I figured it was a good company to work for.”
Dan Alden (Clifton Springs), Jacob Brixen (Geneva), Jeffrey Chase (Newark), Wayne Ellison (Geneva), Thomas Grasek (Romulus), John Gundell (Clifton Springs), Chad Maggi (Phelps), A.J. Power (Rochester), James Sinicropi (Seneca Falls) and Benjamin Twitchell (Clifton Springs) also received certificates Thursday.
Kristen Fragnoli, provost of academic and student affairs at FLCC, thanked G.W. Lisk and ITT Goulds for the partnerships. With those companies providing jobs to people going through the machinist programs, the area unemployment rate is well below the national average, she added.
“They are putting people to work with good wages and good benefits,” she said.
Jensen, who retired from the Army as a staff sergeant, is looking forward to another long career — this time at Lisk.
“I would recommend this program to anyone. If you are looking to get out of trenches, this is a good program,” he said. “Lisk has an outstanding foundation for its employees. I would love to work for this company for a long time.”