Robotics & Advanced Manufacturing Program supports entrepreneurial excellence

Posted 2/21/24

Ulster BOCES means different things to different people. For Nick Keglovitz, a Wallkill High School graduate who attended the Ulster BOCES Robotics & Advanced Manufacturing program and also took …

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Robotics & Advanced Manufacturing Program supports entrepreneurial excellence


Ulster BOCES means different things to different people. For Nick Keglovitz, a Wallkill High School graduate who attended the Ulster BOCES Robotics & Advanced Manufacturing program and also took an Adult Career Education Center Welding course, it meant learning how to become a modern-day machinist, capable of transforming raw metal into a successful career.

Nick’s professional journey began when he was a sophomore at Wallkill Senior High School. “I was exposed to the world of machines by a technical teacher I had who said, ‘You should check out this program [the Robotics & Advanced Manufacturing program],’’’ he recalled. After learning more, Nick realized that he had found his career path. “I ran from there!” he said.

Juggling academic classes, rigorous technical training, and a part-time custodial-type job at a company in the machining trade was challenging, but Nick was more than up to the challenge. During his time at the Career & Technical Center, he even came in first place in the Job Skill Demonstration Year 1 category at the 2021 SkillsUSA regional competition. He also earned his Basic Lathe Operator and Basic Mill Operator certificates from Haas Automation, Inc., a machine tool company.

Nick turned 18 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and enrolled in a 40-hour welding evening course at the Ulster BOCES Adult Career Education Center in addition to his daytime course at the Career & Technical Center. Initially, he had virtual meetings once a week, which were taught by instructor Salvatore (Sal) Ligotino. Later, he balanced his time between online and in-person labs and learning.

“Nick had a clear vision of what his career would be prior to attending Ulster BOCES for Advanced Manufacturing,” Ligotino said. “His focus and determination were refreshing to see.”

As Nick entered his senior year of high school, he participated in the Ulster BOCES Capstone program, landing an internship with Usheco, Inc., a manufacturer of custom-molded plastic parts. After the field experience he gained through his internship, he knew he wanted to continue on this chosen career path. Post-graduation, he enrolled in the Advanced Manufacturing Technology program at Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC).

Nick’s experiences with various jobs and machinery systems have confirmed that he loves this kind of work. “Throughout my journey, I’ve learned that my passion for machining stems from the ability to solve complex problems and have a new challenge every day,” he said. “What I love most is putting the tool to the metal and ‘getting after it,’” Nick concluded.

These days, Nick is attending HVCC full time while working three days a week at Gillinder Glass in Port Jervis and nights at Advanced Manufacturing Techniques in Clifton Park. Exhibiting his entrepreneurial spirit, he has also founded his own company, KEG CAD, Inc., a Gardiner-based business specializing in CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) machining, programming, prototyping, and product engineering. “My decision to become an entrepreneur stemmed from a desire for independence after realizing the deductions that would come from my company paychecks,” he explained. “It is just a much better model for me. I work as a consultant now.”

Nick frequently uses his welding skills as he works to repair molds used in glass production, which are then re-machined. He specializes in adding material to parts so that they will work again or become something new. “Using both machining and welding skills to repair molds that are used for glass production is very specialized,” he said. “I enjoy re-machining these molds to get them back into service for glass manufacturing.”

Nick’s unique skill set, combining machinist and welding expertise, sets him apart in the industry. “It [skills learned at Ulster BOCES] has pushed me ahead of the game, as far as interviewing, and boosts my resume to stand out,” he explained. “You are typically either one or the other—a machinist or a welder—or you do another trade,” he said.

Nick expresses gratitude for Ulster BOCES, describing it as “the catalyst for translating theoretical knowledge into hands-on experience.” Reflecting on his journey, Nick said, “I really enjoyed attending Ulster BOCES. It allowed me to take the tools I was learning and teaching myself online, and to take that knowledge and get hands-on experience. It is how you should be learning. BOCES itself was the best teacher.”