BATAVIA, N.Y. — The Genesee Valley BOCES program is working to change high school education with its one-of-a-kind mechatronics program. This program combines mechanical, electrical and information technology training and is designed to prepare students for high-demand careers right out of high school.

More than $500,000 of equipment was invested in giving students hands-on experience. If they choose not to attend college following graduation, they may have the tools to start a good-paying career. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Genesee Valley BOCES Mechatronics program is working to change high school education

  • Students gain practical experience through job shadowing and paid internships

  • Graduates of the program benefit financially, with many earning $26 an hour post-graduation

"The program is one of a kind in high school, where you get state-of-the-art equipment, and we teach skill sets that will set your career right out of high school," said Christopher Suozzi, vice president of Business and Workforce with the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Students start their careers before graduation by job shadowing as juniors and doing paid internships as seniors, ensuring they are job-ready.

"We work with the Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program, and this year, we're graduating our 100th student after four years of this program being established," Suozzi added. 

Students are learning all things mechanical, electrical and IT, which can be applied in industries ranging from utilities to advanced manufacturing," said Bo Caton, a student at Genesee Valley BOCES. "I did a duct cleaning in the house. So it's just vacuuming all their piping and stuff their heat is going through. It was great."

Micah Pulliam is in the job shadowing phase of the program. He loves electricity and wants to be an electrician someday. 

"If I got put out into a manufacturing factory and I have to program a robot that helps me already get the knowledge of, 'Oh, I got the point, teach, point, move, grasp, release,'" Pulliam said. 

Rich Monroe is the instructor responsible for ensuring his students are well-prepared for the workforce or further education.

"My students learn to rebuild machines, do technical research, and work well with others," Monroe said. "They may not be experts when they graduate, but they are technically knowledgeable and meet the basic needs of employers."

Graduates of the program are already seeing significant financial benefits. According to Christopher Suozzi, many earn $26 an hour from high school. 

"We call that the other four-year degree, but it's paid for by the local companies and the apprenticeships," Suozzi said. "We believe we're solving the talent crisis locally by putting this program in place."

High school juniors and seniors are eligible to take this class. Fifty-percent of past students are still working with companies statewide, and 50% pursued advanced training.