The head of Niagara County Community College's computer-assisted design and drafting program said the program offers a "best-kept secret."
The secret, he said, is placement: all graduates of the course land good-paying jobs.
"There's no other program at this college or probably any other college nearby that has this placement record," said Donald D. Voisinet, the program's chairman. About 50 freshmen usually start the course every fall, with about half of them making it through the rigorous two-year program to graduation.
Voisinet said every student who has graduated from the program during the last nine years has found a job in the field of computer-assisted design and drafting.
Design engineers typically use computer-assisted drafting as a sales tool to sell designs to prospective clients. Voisinet said clients can "walk through" the design on a computer screen, seeing the plans as the designers see them.
NCCC employs three full-time and eight to 10 part-time instructors in the program.
Drawing designs by hand is almost obsolete, he notes.
"Ninety-five percent of the local designers and drafters will never draw anything manually," Voisinet said.
NCCC currently is the only two-year college in the state to offer this program. The graduates, on average, start out earning $12 an hour, with raises of about $1 an hour for each year employed in the field, Voisinet said.
Newsweek magazine has ranked NCCC as one of the top 10 programs in the country for design and drafting, he said.
College President Gerald L. Miller praised Voisinet as being "one of the most progressive" members of the school's faculty.
"He's one of the chief authors of textbooks in the field. . . . He's never satisfied. He's a very exciting teacher (and) he's one of the best there is."
Miller said virtual reality's impact on the field of architecture is profound.
"An architect gets into the virtual reality program and they're able to (instantly) shave walls," instead of having to tackle the time-consuming task of altering models, he said.
Ryan P. Allen, who graduated from the program last spring and is currently employed as by Precision Process Equipment in Niagara Falls, praised the program for its practicality, too.
"The different aspects of drafting that they taught us would help anybody find a job in any kind of drafting," he said.
Clifford E. Niethe Jr., who graduates from the program this month, gave high praise to the Voisinet for the job-placement reputation,
"(He) brings in companies and sets up interviews and stuff right at the school," said Niethe, who already has landed a job at Curbell Inc. in Orchard Park.