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Coach's Column: let’s put the spotlight on women this March

By Chris Suozzi
Submitted photo from Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program.

March Madness brings out the best of college basketball players across the country. The emotions and exuberant atmosphere generated by fans and athletes are unmatched.

From a workforce development perspective, the GLOW region’s version of March Madness offers the same competitive, robust, and exhilarating atmosphere that hundreds of student-athletes will shortly embark upon.

Two themes that intertwine in the realms of workforce development and athletics are the inspirational narratives that haven’t always been given the spotlight. I’m excited that Caitlin Clark’s record-breaking performances at Iowa are getting the attention it deserves - and I’m working to ensure that the young women ready for tech careers get the same attention. 

Like Caitlin, the young leaders stepping up in workforce training and manufacturing are a small portion of the women who can play integral roles. If our region is going to successfully meet the workplace demands of existing and new and emerging companies, then there is going to be a need for a diverse workforce, particularly among women.

Future Genesee County employer and semiconductor manufacturer Edwards has recognized the importance of having a diversified workforce as the industry-leading company has set a goal for 30% of their employees to be female by 2030.

The team overseeing Edwards Genesee, and our existing base of manufacturers, is striving to these goals by promoting positive awareness through our work with schools and colleges, encouraging aspiring female engineers, technicians, managers, and apprentices.

“Our goal is to be as diverse as possible… You want to have that mix of ideas and backgrounds - that’s how you get the best results,” Jeff Mickel, Edwards’ project manager shared recently on a tour of GCC’s training facilities.

Our workforce development blueprint was designed to introduce our students to in-demand, family-sustaining careers, and we look forward to working with our employers in their efforts to recruit individuals from various backgrounds.

We have two great opportunities to do that!

The GLOW region’s March Madness kicks off with STEAM Jam and Tech Wars, where elementary, middle, and high school students showcase their technical skills at Genesee Community College.

At STEAM Jam, over 100 3rd – 5th-grade students will participate in hands-on activities and show them the opportunity to turn these skills into a potential career once they are older and ready to join the workforce.

Later in the day, the 15th annual Tech Wars will take place where GLOW region middle and high school students showcase their technical expertise through innovative technology competitions.

To further educate students in attendance, New York State’s leading mechatronics program housed at the Genesee Valley BOCES will be in attendance to inform students about the career opportunities and training available for careers that use the same skills being utilized at STEAM Jam and Tech Wars.

Stay tuned to find out what schools and individuals will end up in the winner’s circle on Thursday, March 21!

Rounding out our March Madness is the second annual GLOW With Your Hands Healthcare. This is a great program offering hands-on displays and presentations to over 600 students from 28 GLOW region schools.

While this edition of GLOW With Your Hands aims to introduce students to careers in the healthcare sector, I always advise students that these skills can take them to any career. We have one of the most prepared and educated workforces in the country and we can’t close any doors to a career change - after all, a versatile skillset is what set up Cailtin Clark’s scoring record on the court!

Whether you are a student, parent, teacher, or guidance counselor contact me at to learn more about the opportunities available.

Chris Suozzi is the Vice President of Business & Workforce Development and the Co-Founder of GLOW With Your Hands.

Submitted photo from Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Bootcamp.
Submitted photo from GLOW With Your Hands: Healthcare.
Submitted photo from GLOW With Your Hands: Manufacturing.

Byron-Bergen students inspired by STEAM Jam and Tech Wars at GCC

By Billie Owens

Above: Byron-Bergen STEAM Jam team with STEAM Lab teacher Craig Schroth. Photo credit: Diane Taylor.

Submitted photos and press release:

On Thursday, March 14, 11 Byron-Bergen fifth-grade students and seven senior high school students in grades 9 through 11 joined hundreds of others from Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties at Genesee Community College for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering And Math) Jam and Tech Wars.

Tech Wars, now in its 12th year, annually invites students to compete in activities to challenge their innovation, creativity, and resourcefulness.

Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School Technology teacher Jay Wolcott, who has a background in commercial manufacturing, was one of the originators of the competition and annually judges the SUMO bots event.

Other events include CO2 car races, architectural CAD (computer-assisted design), logo design, and the regatta -- during which students ride full-size cardboard boats across the GCC pool.

“Tech Wars encourages students to think outside the box while still maintaining the required parameters,” says Wolcott. “We want something different, cutting edge, but it takes real innovation to solve a challenge in a new way while staying within the limits of size, weight, materials or time.”

The Tech Wars participants vie mostly for trophies and bragging rights but, because of the generous sponsorship from regional businesses, two students also receive scholarships.

“Maybe a student isn’t an athlete,” adds Wolcott, “but at Tech Wars they can compete, use their skills, and be part of a team.”

First-year senior high cchool Technology teacher Meshari Alnouri attended his first Tech Wars this year. Although mostly there to observe and become familiar with the events, his students participated in the High School Mystery Event.

"The Mystery Event was a great experience for my students," says Alnouri. "Between participating and watching therest of the competitions, they’re excited to prepare for next year. I’m excited to help them hone their skills andexpand their vision of what’s possible."

STEAM Jam is a new event with 90 elementary school student participants from eight districts. It is the collaborative project of the regional STEAM teachers’ cohort. Byron-Bergen STEAM Lab teacher Craig Schroth was one of the driving forces behind this year’s event.

“STEAM Jam is a celebration,” says Schroth. “We designed three tasks for the students to complete which encouragethem to get excited about science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

"It is also a great opportunity for the elementary school students to see the older kids at Tech Wars. We hope that they will carry their enthusiasm withthem to junior and senior high school.”

Fifth-grader Gianna Graff said "I had so much fun at STEAM Jam! One of my favorite parts was being able to seethe older kids compete in Robot Soccer. Now, I am so excited for Tech Wars when I get older."

The STEAM Jam challenges asked students to use design to create a swag item incorporating their school logo and anLED light, construct a tower out of cardboard boxes capable of supporting a toy basketball hoop and surviving a “slam dunk,” and code a robot to launch a ball through a hoop from various positions.

“It was a place where I could use my creativity, engineering skills, and artistic abilities,” said fifth-grade participant Simone Scharvogel. “I can't wait to go back!"

Below: Jay Wolcott and Meshari Alnouri. Photo credit: Gretchen Spittler.

Below: Byron-Bergen STEAM Jam team completing their basketball tower. Photo credit: Diane Taylor.

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