Delhi Celebrates 50 Years of Vocational Education

Vintage image of student putting together wires


SUNY Delhi proudly celebrates 50 years of vocational education in trades such as plumbing, carpentry, masonry, welding, refrigeration, automotive mechanics, cooking, and secretarial skills. Initiated in 1968 and 1969 to complement the college’s technical programs, vocational education at the time answered a need to offer training for trades that didn’t require a degree. The courses varied in length from 24 weeks to a year, and participants received a certificate upon completion.  

 In 50 years, many of SUNY Delhi’s vocational courses have developed into associate's or bachelor’s degrees and form the foundation of the School of Applied Technologies and Architecture and the School of Business and Hospitality Management, representing two of the cornerstones of the college today.

"SUNY Delhi’s programs have adapted and evolved alongside industry developments and continue to do so," said SUNY Delhi Provost Kelli Ligeikis. "While Delhi has always held a proud tradition for applied learning, it has become a leading institution preparing its students for in-demand jobs and careers. Our faculty and staff are exceptionally committed to making sure our programs stay relevant and offer the latest knowledge and skills. This has always been at the heart of a SUNY Delhi education.

"Delhi’s original secretarial skills training has developed into a highly competitive business program with specialized areas of study that include accounting, marketing, information technology management, and human resource management. The cooking certificate today is an award-winning culinary arts and hospitality program that produces sought-after professionals and leaders in fields such as hotel and restaurant management and event management. Delhi graduates work for some of the country's most influential chefs and at some of the highest-caliber establishments.

"The growth we’ve experienced is phenomenal," said Dr. David Brower, dean of the School of Business and Hospitality Management. "We are now considered one of the premier business and hospitality institutions state-wide and nationally. Our facilities, which include Bluestone, a new state-of-the-art restaurant and event center, are second to none, allowing our students to gain real-world experience right on campus." 

Collage of a female mechanic, a welder, a female electrician and a group of culinary arts students
In applied technologies, many of SUNY Delhi’s original programs continue to thrive while staying updated based on industry needs. Associate's degrees in automotive technology, automotive mechanics, construction, welding, HVAC, and electrical construction utilize modern facilities, high-quality materials, and the latest technologies. Students learn from experienced instructors on real-life projects and can typically expect 100% job placement after graduation. SUNY Delhi has added a degree in Renewable Energy Integration, preparing students for careers in the rapidly expanding fields of alternative and renewable energies, as well as a degree in electrical construction and utility operations designed for students wishing to enter the workforce as linemen.

Students who want to further their education beyond an associate's degree in the applied technologies field can earn a bachelor’s degree in construction management or facilities management. These programs engage students in advanced study on topics that include project management, human resource management, and law and contracting, preparing students for managerial and supervisory positions in the industry.

SUNY Delhi’s bachelor’s program in mechatronics is a true pioneer in the industry and an example of Delhi faculty’s visionary leadership. The first of its kind in New York State as well as the first 4-year program in the nation, the degree grew out of the manufacturing and automation industry’s need to hire workers with multiple skills. Evolving from a Computer Aided Drafting and Design program, which also saw its inception 50 years ago, mechatronics combines electrical, welding, machining, and parametric design, imparting a breadth of skill that is in high demand in many industries. Using innovative automation, the mechatronics curriculum enables graduates to bridge the gap between theoretical design and practical application. The need for employees in the field is growing at a rate of 40 new jobs per day nationwide. All of Delhi’s students to date have graduated with multiple job offers on the table.

"Students in all our programs are able to hit the ground running as soon as they graduate," said Nancy Macdonald, dean of the School of Applied Technologies and Architecture. "We work closely with our advisory boards and industry connections and adjust our curricula to respond to what employers are looking for. This forward-thinking approach combined with hands-on instruction is behind the strong reputation SUNY Delhi’s programs enjoy today. That’s what really sets our graduates apart."

According to Distinguished Professor Emeritus Joe Greenfield, who taught applied technologies at SUNY Delhi for almost 47 years, the Delhi tradition of graduating highly competent professionals is as strong as ever. 
"Delhi’s programs continue to be at the forefront of training the highest level of tradespeople," Greenfield said. "Our curricula are dynamic and our graduates are educated using the latest technology. Our programs are extremely relevant for today and the future." 

Greenfield continued, "We train the people for the jobs that keep this country going, whether it's setting up the controls to run a processing plant, repairing a vehicle, or installing electrical systems. Our students are educated to fill those needs." 

Learn more about applied technologies and business and hospitality programs at SUNY Delhi.