Connecting students to manufacturing

Published July 25, 2018

Sue Gubing.

Sue Gubing

Susan Gubing of Long Island, NY, partially carved her career by locating and coordinating internships for high school students. Early on, the career consultant learned that knocking on a company’s door is not enough to support business development.

The differentiator is an ability to speak the language of the industry. Gubing finds online courses to be an ideal solution when she needs a primer – and quickly.

So when she became a matchmaker for Long Island’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program, her insecurities in manufacturing knowledge drove her to enroll in digital manufacturing and design technology courses from the University at Buffalo.

“Now I finally know what a CNC machine is,” she says with a laugh, before disclosing that the courses gave her knowledge to identify various technologies, broadened her vocabulary, and provided insight into processes and manufacturing’s evolution. “I know enough to talk my way in and say that I understand.”

P-TECH is a grade 9-14 model that emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. P-TECH schools are collaborations between education and industry, enabling students to graduate with a high school diploma and associate’s degree.

Long Island’s P-TECH is an alliance of three high schools. It encourages a manufacturing pathway and affords the opportunity to earn a degree from Farmingdale State College.

In pursuit of enriching the student experience, Gubing’s efforts to make connections included mingling at professional association meetings. UB’s curriculum stocked her with confidence to converse in more meaningful discussions.

The courses also proved advantageous in helping her establish an advisory board composed two-thirds of manufacturers, organize field trips, attract guest speakers and even contribute to procuring equipment donations for Farmingdale State.

“They [the courses] were terrific. They were short enough and introductory enough to take the knowledge and vocabulary, and put it all together,” she says. “They were perfect for a beginner.”

Gubing no longer coordinates P-TECH activities and internships. But she advocates for courses like UB’s through her educational consulting firm CareerSmarts, and as an online teacher for Buffalo State College and Hofstra University. She instructs courses that teachers need to become certified internship coordinators.

“Anyone in marketing, advertising, sales, education – all should consider taking unique courses to enhance their knowledge in order to compete,” Gubing said, stressing the importance of stepping outside of one’s chosen field or career path.

Such lifelong learning has the potential to open new doors professionally and, on a personal level, enlighten leisure time. Gubing recently returned from her 16th trip to Europe, where a tour immersed her in museums, churches and several manufacturing plants.

“In Berlin, it was fascinating to see what they build,” she recalls, referencing Germany’s dominance in leading manufacturing’s digital age known as Industry 4.0. “I knew, in a way, what they were showing me. I could ask a question. If I didn’t have that knowledge, I would say, ‘Oh, it’s just another machine’.”

The Digital Manufacturing and Design Technology specialization was developed by TCIE in coordination with the SMART (Sustainable Manufacturing and Advanced Robotic Technologies) Community of Excellence, UB Center for Educational Innovation and industry partners. Efforts were partially funded by the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) and its parent organization, UI LABS.