How will we prepare them?

Tomorrow makers are molded at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Employers know that tomorrow makers are molded at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

That is evident in the college’s 97.3% 2017-18 graduate placement rate. It is proven in employer attendance at its twice-annual Career Fairs, which continue to break records. And it is lived by individual students who come to Penn College with a career dream and later become leaders in their industries and communities.

Penn College continues to adapt to workforce needs through innovative programs that prepare students to transform tomorrow.

Apprenticeships help to alleviate skills gaps

Pennsylvania College of Technology’s ability to equip individuals with the skills they need for open jobs has been proven for over a century. Employers begin recruiting many Penn College students months – even years – before their graduation.

With the economy growing, even more positions are available for those highly skilled graduates, prompting employers to supplement their recruiting efforts with a look inward, to help current employees develop new skills.

Penn College is helping companies to do that through its Apprenticeship Center. In its first three years, the college has worked with industry to develop five registered apprenticeships – with several more in various stages of exploration. Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training under a skilled mentor with related instruction.

Apprentices become state-certified journey-workers by demonstrating they are proficient in an industry-accepted list of competencies. Each year of an apprenticeship represents the skills that would typically be mastered in about 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning. In addition, apprentices must complete 144 hours of related technical instruction each year.

Penn College works with employers to develop and implement registered apprenticeships. It provides the required related training, coordinates and assists with the development of all required materials, and it handles the record-keeping work that is required for apprentices to become certified journey-workers. The college provides flexibility, offering instruction on location, on the college’s campus, or via interactive remote delivery at the time that works best for each employer.

The Penn College Apprenticeship Center’s “consortium” apprenticeships allow small to midsize companies – who may have as few as one apprentice in a specific skill area – to join with other companies to share costs.

“For many small to medium-sized companies, apprenticeships are out of reach on their own,” said Christopher P. Ray, executive director of business development for the college. “They don’t have the manpower to dedicate to something like that. Our ability to bring companies together and lessen their individual administrative burden is critical.”

In 2018-19, Penn College offered five registered apprenticeships:

  • Industrial manufacturing technician
  • Computer numerical control precision machinist
  • Mechatronics technician
  • Infrastructure maintenance technician
  • Emergency medical technician

The college also offers pre-apprenticeships, which introduce participants to career sectors – such as advanced manufacturing or health care – rather than specific occupations.

“Our vision is to get people exposed to occupations in a sector,” said Shannon M. Munro, the college’s vice president for workforce development.

Apprenticeships provide a pathway to a Penn College degree, and some are already taking advantage of that, Ray said. For example, completing the four-year mechatronics technician registered apprenticeship translates to credits toward a Penn College degree.

“This positions Penn College well to respond to the skills gap from multiple directions,” Munro said. “Apprenticeships help employers to upgrade the skills of their current workforce, but I don’t know a single company participating in apprenticeships that is not also looking to hire our graduates.”

“In this economy, pressure is growing for companies to expand,” Ray added. “They have new positions and want Penn College graduates, but they have to hire people who don’t already have the exact skills that they want. So they need to upskill their workforce. We as a college fill both of those needs.”

With the help of Jacob M. Endy, of Pottstown, a sophomore in mechatronics engineering technology, Eileen Cipriani, Pennsylvania’s deputy secretary for workforce development, measures rotation speed. They are joined by Eric Ramsay, director of the state’s Apprenticeship and Training Office.

Policymakers support apprenticeships
Initiatives at both the state and federal level support the growth of apprenticeships to help close skills gaps. In 2016, Pennsylvania created an Apprenticeship and Training Office within the Department of Labor & Industry. The department is working to double the number of registered apprentices in the state by 2025.

The college has received a $576,000 grant from the state Department of Community & Economic Development and two PAsmart grants, totaling $177,050, to help alleviate costs for employers to conduct apprenticeships. 

In June, Penn College and New Jersey Institute of Technology were awarded a $7,996,530 federal grant to develop Modular, Industry-Driven Apprenticeships Strategies in advanced manufacturing fields. Penn College was the only institution in the state to receive funding as part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s awarding of $183.8 million in grants to 23 academic institutions and consortia. The goal is to further expand apprenticeships and address the skills gap. 

“MIDAS will enable us to scale apprenticeship programs nationally,” said Munro, adding that the grant’s goal is to train 3,200 apprentices between the two institutions. “Receiving this grant will allow us to considerably expand the number of apprentices and companies we serve.”

Registered apprenticeships at Penn College

With the economy growing, even more positions are available for those highly skilled graduates, prompting employers to supplement their recruiting efforts with a look inward, to help current employees develop new skills.

Manufacturing Pre-Apprenticeship at Penn College

Through Workforce Development, Pennsylvania College of Technology offers a unique manufacturing pre-apprenticeship program for high school students.

New majors address industry needs

The college has introduced several real-world relevant majors.

Effective for Fall 2019

Effective for Fall 2019

  • Electrical construction, associate degree
  • Chemical dependency, competency credential
Launching in Fall 2020

Launching in Fall 2020

  • Automation engineering technology: robotics and automation, bachelor’s degree
  • Automation engineering technology: mechatronics, bachelor’s degree
  • Business administration: restaurant and hospitality operations, bachelor’s degree
  • Professional baking, certificate
NSF grant promotes advanced manufacturing careers

NSF grant promotes advanced manufacturing careers

The National Science Foundation awarded the college a $591,924 grant through its Advanced Technological Education program to increase the number of qualified workers in advanced manufacturing. During the next three years, the money will fund several initiatives that target misperceptions and offer pathways to obtaining advanced technical skills.

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Career Fair continues to break records

Career Fair continues to break records

The Penn College Career Far grew yet again and saw records broken in student attendance, employer attendance and positions offered (more than 5,000 jobs and internships in spring). The addition of a second location for the two-day event supports an additional 170 employers, for a capacity of 474 employers each semester.

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Student Experience

Students gain global perspective

Eighty-nine students traveled abroad through the International Programs Office in 2018-19 – an impressive increase from 48 students in 2016-17. New opportunities included:

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Students impress on world’s stages


Automotive students, faculty compete in ‘Green Grand Prix’

Twenty-seven members of the Penn College Motorsports Association participated in Friday’s 15th annual Toyota Green Grand Prix, which promotes innovation in sustainable transportation technologies while launching the season-opening weekend at New York’s renowned Watkins Glen International racetrack. Van Stavoren (left) and victorious students celebrate their success. Thomas M.


Graphic design students, alumnus earn national awards

The graphic design talents of three students and one alumnus of Pennsylvania College of Technology have been honored in the annual Flux Student Design Competition. From left: Luke A. Bierly, of Centre Hall; Alexis M. Botek, of Pottsville; and Brandon M.


Penn College two-year team earns national championship at Vegas builders show

Pennsylvania College of Technology’s two-year entry in the National Association of Home Builders’ student competition brought home a championship trophy from Las Vegas – the institution’s first team to do so since 2011.

Programs address health care worker shortage

In 2018-19, Workforce Development at Penn College trained 478 learners via 25 courses in practical nursing, international trauma life support, phlebotomy and emergency medical technician.


Learners trained via 25 courses in practical nursing, international trauma life support, etc.

Programs address health care worker shortage


EMT graduates. The group bested state and national pass rates on the national certification exam.

Programs address health care worker shortage


Graduates of a phlebotomy class held on main campus

Programs address health care worker shortage

Athletics earns conference accolades

Athletics earns conference accolades

Penn College’s NCAA Division III athletics program received the North Eastern Athletic Conference’s top award for its student-athletes’ community service efforts, the Senior Woman Administrators’ Cup. The college finished second in the conference’s sportsmanship ranking, and third in the overall Presidents’ Cup running, which considers athletics success, academics, sportsmanship and community service.

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Our People

Faculty further their professions

Information technology

Stephen R. Cheskiewicz, assistant professor of information technology, presented research at an international conference in Barcelona, Spain. His research focuses on Internet security

Graphic design

Brian A. Flynn and David M. Moyer, both assistant professors of graphic design, co-authored “Visual Literacy Workbook for Graphic Designers and Fine Artists,” a textbook published by Oxford University Press in February 2019.

Communication & literature

Joshua D. Hill, assistant professor of speech communication-compostion, authored a textbook, “The Roberts Papers: A Tale of Research, Revision and Espionage,” published by Kendall Hunt, 2019.  Hill also wrote a chapter, “Teaching ‘Digital Natives’ to Think: A Media Ecology Approach,” in “Teaching Information Literacy and Writing Studies,” Volume 2, edited by Grace Veach, published by Purdue University Press in 2019.