Teens explore career fields at annual Workforce Innovations Conference

Hands-on workshops focus on science, technology and hospitality options

Ken Huth

Steve Schultz, co-founder and chief technology officer of Pictometry, was the keynote speaker at the Workforce Innovations Conference. The RIT alumnus shared his personal career experiences and information about work done by his company.

The audience was warned ahead of time that they would be hungry after the presentation.

Students from area high schools were treated to images of tri-colored ravioli and whipped-cream-covered chocolate sundaes during Carol Whitlock’s presentation about the variety of hospitality careers at the recent Workforce Innovations Conference. Afterward, the students donned chef’s hats and mixed their own combinations of granola treats.

Sophomore and junior students from area high schools were part of the annual conference to showcase career opportunities in the fields of hospitality, information technology, imaging science, microelectronics and alternative energy. The event was sponsored by Monroe County BOCES No. 1 and hosted at RIT.

Whitlock, program chair of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, shared options in the growing hospitality industry. She noted that careers include working as a chef, managing a marina or country club, and working as food scientists and food stylists, to name a few.

“Food is a global industry and one of the largest,” she told the 25 students and teachers in the audience. “I’d like to show you these different options and maybe there will be something that sparks your interest.”

Taking up places in the kitchen of Henry’s restaurant, the students chose chocolate-covered almonds, dried fruits and different flavorings to make granola bars. Daniel Barley, a junior from Rush-Henrietta Senior High School, and his work-partner, Alan Palermo, a junior from Irondequoit High School, selected sunflower seeds, cranberries, peanut butter and brown sugar to go with their rolled-oats mixture. Palermo participated in last year’s conference in the alternative energy workshop. It was Barley’s first trip to RIT and he was just looking into the different options open to him, including this session and the following one in imaging science.

Nearly 100 sophomores and juniors listened to a keynote address by RIT alumnus Steve Shultz, co-founder and chief technical officer of Pictometry. Afterward, they split up into groups and participated in workshops presented by RIT faculty, including Whitlock; Bethany Choate, outreach specialist in the Center for Imaging Science; Michael Jackson, professor of microelectronic engineering; Michael Savka, professor of life sciences; Elissa Weeden, associate professor in information sciences and technologies; and Dave Fister and Tom Trabold, associate professors in the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute. All provided an overview of career fields, the academic background necessary to enter college to pursues those fields and some of the work done by professionals after graduation.

Daniel Barley, left, a junior from Rush-Henrietta Senior High School, and his work-partner, Alan Palermo, a junior from Irondequoit High School, prepared granola bars as part of a hands-on workshop about careers in hospitality. They were among the students participating in the annual Workforce Innovations Conference sponsored by Monroe County BOCES No. 1. Michelle Cometa

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