Dominic Ortiz’s life recently took a turn that he could not have imagined upon graduation from Newark High School in 2015.
Ortiz, 19, of Newark, was among 12 students who graduated from the Finger Lakes Community College-G.W. Lisk Co. advanced manufacturing machinist training program during a recent ceremony at Warfield’s Restaurant in Clifton Springs.
After high school, Ortiz worked as a dishwasher at Parker’s Restaurant before moving on to Red Jacket Central School, where he worked as a janitor. His mother, Nelly DeVelder, heard about the machinist program at a Newark Chamber of Commerce meeting and felt it would provide her son with a well paid career with the promise of advancement.
Ortiz admitted he needed convincing to start the six-month program last September. Students learn through classroom and hands-on instruction how to use machine tools to make precision components for the automotive, aerospace, medical and other industries. Machinists are in high demand in the Rochester area, and modern machining requires training in the use of computer-controlled equipment, technical math and metrology, the study of measurement. Youth like Ortiz are also sought after as baby boomer machinists reach retirement age.
Ortiz said the program was tough in the beginning, but G.W. Lisk instructor Dave Phillips took the time to answer his questions.
“He does such a great job at what he does,” Ortiz said. “I think I’ve gotten better at math than in high school.”
Ortiz and nine other graduates were hired by G.W. Lisk, with two others opting to take jobs at Five Star Equipment in Rochester and Badge Machine Products in Canandaigua.
Now, Ortiz has traded mopping floors for making precision components at one of Ontario County’s private-sector employers. He is looking forward to getting settled on the job and taking advanced training to move up in the machining industry.
For graduate Norman Deets II, of Rochester, the machinist program provided a way to advance within G.W. Lisk. Deets graduated from FLCC’s 12-week mechatronic technology program in May 2015. The training gained him a foot in the door as an assembler in the company’s military assembly section. Deets continued working while enrolled in the machinist program and is now manufacturing parts that are routed to his old department.
“I have learned an awful lot over the last few years,” he said in regard to his progression through two FLCC programs and his two years with the company.
“Norman is a great example of what we call ‘laddering,’ or taking a short class to learn the basics, getting a job and then enrolling in more advanced programs to improve skills and move higher,” said Marcy Lynch, FLCC director of workforce development.
Other graduates are Randy Antonetty, of Manchester; Jay Barbera and Brian Wiedrick, of Newark; Thomas Burlingame, of Bloomfield; Kyle Gibbs, of Shortsville; Jeffrey Kelsey, of Canandaigua; Thomas Mincer, of Clifton Springs; Kevin Nelson, of Webster; Dalton Schaubert, of Rushville; and Michael Wasson of Lyons.
FLCC runs two machinist classes each year, one starting in the fall at G.W. Lisk and one starting in the spring at ITT Goulds Pumps in Seneca Falls. The next machinist class starts in September. To get on the list for notification of enrollment, call 585-785-1906 or email andrea.badger@flcc.edu.
FLCC currently has grant funding available to cover tuition for ages 18-29, veterans and dislocated workers. The grant funding can be used for the advanced manufacturing machinist program or the shorter mechatronics technology program that Deets completed to get his start.