SUNY Morrisville’s Automotive & Clean Energy Summer Institute Holds Student Exploration Day

The event was a chance to see opportunities and new technologies in automotive, diesel, agriculture and renewable energy.

Automotive student Joseph Corigliano, left, and Alex Graf, right, instructional support assistant in auto body technology, use a chief laser measuring system to check the frame measurements of a 1998 Chevrolet Malibu. Photo by Allisa Coomey.

They learned about renewable energy, watched a tower climb demonstration, saw a giant solar array, a dentless auto paint repair, car wrap and detail, and heard how sunflowers can be turned into fuel to run a car.

It was all part of SUNY Morrisville’s exploration day during its Automotive & Clean Energy Summer Institute. The event offered a chance for participants to explore opportunities and emerging technologies in automotive, diesel, agricultural technology and renewable energy.

“It gives them a feel for the campus and familiarizes them with different careers,” said Sam Doubleday, the New York college’s offshore wind outreach coordinator. “They may not know what a solar array is, but they got to see one and ask questions about it.”

The session included walking tours, visits to multiple labs, technical demonstrations and a meet and greet with industry professionals. Demonstrations were held in the college’s state-of-the art Agricultural & Clean Energy Technology (ACET) Center and automotive laboratories and facilities.

Hunter Beam is only 12, but already has an interest in renewable energy or cars. “There is a lot of pretty cool stuff to see,” he said about the ACET Center, where participants toured the thermal combustion, power train and tower climbing labs, among others. 

Mandi Beauchamp and her son, Everett Fogelman, 12, of Vernon Center, NY, were among those who attended the first session for students, guidance counselors, instructors and parents.

“I never had an opportunity like this,” said Beauchamp, who works in the Morrisville Auxiliary Corporation (MAC) at the college. “To have them interested in a trade and to be at a college to see all of this and help them get geared at a young age is important.” 

Eyes widened as participants watched renewable energy student Lawrence Kuma climb a tower during a demonstration in the ACET Center’s tower climb lab.

Kuma came to SUNY Morrisville from the Bronx to study nursing, but switched gears once he saw firsthand what the renewable energy programs had to offer.

“Demonstrating helps them get interested and to see what the field is like,” Kuma said. “They get to see to see all of the hands-on and all of the opportunities available to them.”

Daytona Wilcox, 18, of West Winfield, NY, has his sights set on an automotive career and was particularly interested in all that was going on in the auto body building.

“I came here to see what the college has to offer, Wilcox said. “The facilities are top-notch with everything here from frame straightening, welding, fabrication and engineering.”

“It’s great exposure for participants to see what we do here, what the industry offers and what the opportunities are for various fields,” said Ray Grabowski, associate professor of automotive technology. “It opens their eyes to something they may not have seen and opportunities they didn’t know we have here.” 

Two Professional Development Days were also held, which featured additional technical sessions for high school educators and instructors in the fields of renewable energy, automotive, diesel and agricultural technology to sharpen their skills, refresh their industry knowledge and learn more about up-and-coming technology in their areas of expertise.

The Automotive & Clean Energy Summer Institute is possible through a grant from the Offshore Wind Training Institute (OWTI). The college is among eight SUNY institutions to receive a grant, nearly $4 million announced by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to prepare students for careers in the growing offshore wind industry.

The college’s $500,000 grant will be used for various training opportunities, including K-12 awareness and recruiting and coordinating with workforce development agencies to establish a skilled workforce. College credit-bearing courses are among other opportunities for prospective students, teachers/educators and others looking to explore career options in offshore wind and renewable energy.

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