MEDINA — Bill Rakonczay has been named the first-ever Haas Educator of the Year by the Gene Haas Foundation.
Rakonczay is an Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering teacher at Orleans/Niagara BOCES. He has taught at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center for more than 30 years.
Rakonczay received the honor at the annual Haas Conference in Fort Smith, Ark. The July conference featured content for machinists, CNC instructors and other advanced manufacturing professionals.
Rakonczay’s program recently was awarded a $250,000 grant from the Haas Foundation to upgrade his classroom into a state-of-the-art facility. His school year culminated when his student, Anthony Cercone, earned a gold medal at the National SkillsUSA competition in Atlanta in 3 Axis CNC programming.
“You will never find a teacher who is more dedicated and committed to his craft, his students, his school, his community and Haas Automation,” said former OCTEC Principal Michael Man in a news release. “Bill eats, sleeps and drinks anything and everything Haas CNC Milling. We are very proud of the premier program he has single-handedly built over three decades. You will not find a better ambassador for Haas and CNC milling anywhere on the planet.”
“In my over two decades in education I have not encountered an instructor more dedicated to his program and his students,” added Principal Nicole Goyette. “His passion for the trade empowers his students and is unmatched. He is always striving to improve his instructional practice, as well as opportunities for his students.
“He works very closely with his industry advisory board to ensure the students are workplace ready with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful,” she continued. “He seeks out opportunities for his students to engage with industry leaders such as Autodesk, Fusion 360, Titans of CNC Machining, Haas F1 Team and NASA’s HUNCH program.” She said Rakonczay will not let students fail or back off of their responsibilities at the OCTEC or at their home school, and is invested in their future.
Rakonczay was shocked when his name was called at the conference for the award.
“It was such an honor to receive this award and I am humbled to be the first educator to receive this,” he said. “It means a lot to me personally and to my program. I am very thankful for the faith and support that the Gene Haas Foundation has put in me and to the contributions they have made to increase the opportunities for my students in the skilled manufacturing industry. I am very proud to be partnered with them.”
The Gene Haas Foundation was established in 1999, by its founder and owner Gene Haas, to support the community and the needs of the best CNC training programs in the world. Its goal is to expand the availability of high-quality manufacturing technology training worldwide.