- New Kensington, PA
- Automated Manufacturing & Machining
Travis understood a hands-on education was important to his learning, but didn’t know it was a possibility – until a friend introduced him to Penn College.
Q&A with Travis
How long did you go to your previous college?
I went there approximately three years mainly in between work. My original plan was to transfer to Penn State for mechanical engineering. I was starting to get into my major courses, and wasn’t sure if this was for me; it just wasn’t clicking like I thought it would. I job shadowed with a few people I knew, but it just didn’t feel right.
About the same time, my best friend was graduating from Penn State main campus. He asked me, “What are you looking for in a career?” I said, “I want to be more hands-on, but I still like the design aspect.” He said, “Did you look at Penn College?” I said, “Where’s Penn College?”
That started the whole ball rolling. How haven’t we heard of them in Pittsburgh? That was one thing that weirded me out because we have a high tech industry, of course, in Pittsburgh. I started asking around some people I knew. One said, “Penn College is a very good school. If he completes his program, he’ll be a very good candidate in the future.” A machinist said, “We prefer people from Penn College. They know what they’re doing when they come out of that school.” It solidified what I was starting to see in searches and talking to people.
Did you visit during Open House?
I came out to Fall Open House with my father and mother. We were walking around campus and my father looked at me and said, “I wish you saw this school first.” And I just looked back and said, “I agree.” He added, “Honestly, when I was going to school, this was probably somewhere I would go. I feel like it’d be a good fit.”
I started talking to some guys who were in my major. I talked to Nate Eckstein, who was in the BAJA club at the time. We had a really good conversation and it kinda sold me on the manufacturing engineering technology program. He said, ‘I’m talking to Case and New Holland, a lot of high-end companies. I love what I do. It’s very hands-on, but you still get the engineering principles. I’m very happy here.’ I applied on the spot.
How was the transfer process?
I definitely remember when I first got here. I had my transcripts and was talking to some of the Admissions counselors. One counselor said, ‘Well, I see a lot of stuff that can transfer in here. For the most part, it looks like this will work out. We’ll look it over, schedule you, and see how you feel. Call if you feel there is something that needs to be justified or is not fitting properly. We’ll get your schedule set and you’ll be good to go.”
I just like the fact that the Admissions office always followed up with phone calls. They always answered my questions. They definitely showed to me what the spirit of Penn College is – that the student comes first. Everyone I ever talked to was like, “Well, I’m not sure, let me call someone in this department, and see if we can get an answer for you.” We started talking about housing, odds & ends, cost of living, employment opportunities here, out of curiosity. It definitely made the whole process smooth. I just had to send in high school transcripts, college transcripts, and, for the most part, everything transferred in. They tried filling in all the open electives as well. They wanted to make sure, that I was getting as much of the credit I’ve already earned used that I can so it’s not just money sent out the door, which was very nice.
Your advisor is not somebody who just has the facts in front of them. They’re intimately aware of the program and the course load you’re going to have in the future and what you’re going to need to do. To me, they’re able to offer more solid advice. That’s their major. That’s what they know and they know how it’s going to evolve in the future.
What are you looking forward to doing?
The beauty with my major in particular is, I can end up essentially wherever I want to go, which is no small feat. I really enjoy that. In talking to Rick, he says I can pretty much move anywhere in the country or the world and find a job with this major. He says, “This industry will treat you right if you put the time and effort in, and you will get out of it what you put into it. There is no lack of benefit to coming into this field.”
But to be more specific, currently with all the internships, job shadows, talking at Career Fairs, just kinda getting a feel for the industry and where I’d like to go, I’m currently looking at Lockheed Martin or Corning Glass as my top two choices right now, but I’m pretty much open to any industry at the moment. I’ve always had the passion for mechanical things and metal, but if want to, I could go and work in a glass plant or a plastics plant … or a wood manufacturing facility or masonry products. The possibilities are endless, which on one hand is daunting but on the other hand is very exciting.
What advice would you give to new, incoming transfer students?
Be open to any opportunity that comes your way because you don’t know where it’ll take you. Case in point – I’m a Presidential Student Ambassador. That all started with me seeing an advertisement for our Leadership Boot Camp offered on campus. I thought, “I can do that. And, honestly, I need to improve myself a little bit.” It was just a personal, introspective thought that I need to improve myself and I see this as a way to do that. It helps me become a leader which, ultimately, will make me a better employee, a better person overall. That led into me having more opportunities with on-campus work, with networking, with meeting other students on campus, with experiencing more diversity in my life. It just opened so many doors.