Penn College Magazine

A publication of Pennsylvania College of Technology

Penn College Magazine
Magazine Spring 2024

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Spring 2024, Volume 33, Number 1

Out to change the world

Construction management grad Ryan Sokoloski ’08 is at the center of a $400 million renovation to the National Geographic Society's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Coping in Maui

Lahaina, Hawaii, residents Kristin (Fortney) Patterson ’09, ’14 and Matthew Francis ’98 recount their experiences following the wildfire that devastated their community.

Ultra-impressive

Reagan McCoy ’20 answers our questions about winning the 100-mile Eastern States 100 ultramarathon.

Dreaming of entrepreneurship

Big work for Little League

Three graphic design graduates are the guardians of Little League’s enduring visual identity.

Wildcat Athletics

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Photographic Memory

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In the last Photographic Memory

We were thrilled to hear from several readers who told us about the day a group of machinist general and machine tool technology students – all in the Class of 1984 – squeezed into Bob Decker’s 1969 Volkswagen. “I don’t recall how the topic came up, but for some reason it did,” Decker recalls. “That topic was ‘How many people can you get in a VW?’ – a tradition from the 1960s. I had a great group of friends from the machine shop classes I was in, and we decided to find out.” Memories put the number at either 16 or 18. “I did a lap around the building with most of them in the car and my back tires smoking from rubbing the fenders.” On the driver’s side, leaning in at the steering wheel, is possibly Decker, followed on his right by Kevin Christman in plaid, then Tom Junga. Crawling in on the left is probably either Bob Davis, Bob Kuder II or Roger Byerly, who all sat in the back seat. Waiting at the passenger side door is Vince Radic Jr., followed by Terry Schwalm (with hands in pockets). The blondhaired student behind Schwalm is Jeff Bailey, and behind Bailey is Chris Garzon. The hidden face with a hat may be Tom Baroni or Francis Krug. Some of the group were members of the Old Mill intramural flag football team that won the championship in 1982 or ’83. 

Thanks to all who helped provide IDs: Rodney Troutman ’84 (a roommate of Schwalm and a member of the Old Mill team), Kevin Byler ’84, Jeff Bailey ’84, Bob Decker ’84 and David Tafelski ’84 (who was a roommate of Junga at 310 Grier St.).

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Inside Front Cover

Inside Front Cover

An Emergency Medicine Lab – with emergency room beds, electrocardiogram machines and other actual or simulated ER equipment – is among the new spaces in Penn College’s Physician Assistant Center. With real-world equipment and furnishings, renovations in the center heighten the level of realism for students before they head out to clinical rotations. Other new spaces include a Family Medicine Lab and a Women’s Health Lab.

The Gene Haas Center for Innovative Manufacturing Niche

College Avenue Labs, Room 140

Renovation to the 12,200-square-foot instructional space – another haven of industry support for hands-on education – was sparked by a $1 million grant from the Gene Haas Foundation. The lab is used primarily for classes in the manufacturing engineering technology, automated manufacturing technology and machine tool technology majors. 

Work, completed in summer 2023, includes a new, adjacent CNC Programming and Simulation Lab, as well as improved, energy efficient high-bay lighting and anti-skid epoxy flooring. Matching funding from the college supported the purchase of new equipment, including multi-axis milling and turning centers, multi-axis CNC machines, industrial robots, 3D printers and additive manufacturing machines, and tool-fitting systems. The newly designed workstations and equipment layout model Lean Six-Sigma and 5S industry standards.

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Stephanie Hajicek
Wildcat Club

Stephanie Hajicek

Sending her son from Washington to Pennsylvania wasn’t easy, but Stephanie had peace of mind. 

“Colten was a starter on the lacrosse team and even scored his first goal as a freshman. He was put in charge as the operations section chief for Penn College’s first Rotorfest (an amazing event where Black Hawk, medevacs, police and military helicopters landed on the lawn). To hear the excitement in his voice, how proud he is, and the success he is having both in school and on the field makes us so proud.”

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Colten Hajicek
Emergency Management & Homeland Security

Colten Hajicek

Colten is a 2022-23 United East Scholar-Athlete and earned a spot on the All-Conference Second Team. 

After a teammate went into cardiac arrest on the lacrosse field, Colten sought a career that would allow him to care for those in need. His desire to make a difference, coupled with his love of lacrosse, landed him at Penn College, where he found like-minded leaders committed to transforming tomorrow.

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Time Capsule

Unearthed

A time capsule, buried in May 1998 at the entrance of The Village at Penn College to commemorate the college’s first year of residence life, was opened during Wildcat Weekend in September to reveal items placed inside by students of The Village Council. Among the items were Village construction photos, items from The College Store, a menu from the Bistro (now site of CC Commons), photos of Village residents, a list of popular music and fads, a timeline of the year’s events, and a list of incurable diseases as of 1998.

Michelle (Goddard) Hood, a member of the Village Council that created the time capsule 25 years ago, offers a student perspective as her daughter, Madison (seated at left), records the proceedings. At right is Timothy J. Mallery, interim director of residence life and student conduct, who was on hand when the capsule was buried. Hood, a pre-dental hygiene student in 1997-98, resides in Harrisburg.

At a May 1998 dedication ceremony, event committee members gather with the capsule’s stone marker and memorabilia. From left: students Lee Gable, Chad Schleig, Michelle Goddard, Craig Eozzo and Kimberly Behe, and Steve Jacobson, then director of residence life. The time capsule was designed and constructed by James A. Potter II, a now-retired instructor of building construction technology, and construction students.

A 25-year-old mascot stares back from the past, seemingly quizzical and a bit worsefor- wear – but still Wildcat-worthy!

Among the mementos: An ode to the day when “the Village People” would toss a disc or two in the complex’s courtyard.

'Cats in the Wild

Christian Hunter ’13 was well-prepared for the Appalachian Trail after his surveying technology degree took him up and down the Cascades and Rockies. 

His Penn College degree, paired with his Army service, set him up for a summer appointment as a land survey technician with the U.S. Forest Service – in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, where he cut trees and marked boundaries. From there, he landed a position at the Gila National Forest in southwest New Mexico, where he set up GPS receivers and post lines. That led to a third Forest Service gig in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, running open traverses with a “total station,” an electronic surveying instrument. 

“After spending that much time in the forests, the Appalachian Trail felt like home,” Hunter says. “The trees, the cold, the heat, the rain, the bugs all felt normal, as I was doing it for 40 hours a week for a long time. Hiking up and down the Cascade Mountains with a tripod and total station strengthened my legs. In Montana, I had to lug a Stihl 463L chainsaw up and down ’em Rocky Mountains. My Appalachian Trail pack felt lighter than my Forest Service Cascade or Rocky Mountain pack.” 

He began his hike in Georgia on March 23, 2021, and completed the 2,193 mile trail when he summited Mount Katahdin in Maine on Aug. 9, 2021. 

While his work prepared him, Hunter says: “I got my start of my momentum by enrolling at Penn College.” 

And he’s not the only one. Shawn Givler ’14 completed the rugged Appalachian Trail in 2020. Givler earned a bachelor’s in welding and fabrication engineering technology and resides in Tyrone. 

Where has your degree taken you? Send a photo and brief description to magazine@pct.edu. (Bonus if you show off your Penn College gear!)

As part of his work as a land survey technician for the U.S. Forest Service, Christian Hunter ’13 carries equipment up and down the Cascade Mountains, in Oregon, to run a traverse.

Hunter operates a total station.

Hunter makes a stop on his 2021 Appalachian Trail through-hike at the iconic McAfee Knob in Virginia, overlooking the Shenandoah Valley.

One of these statements is false. Can you guess which?

Hover over the statement for the answer.

The inventor of the classic Wooly Willy magnetic toy attended classes at Williamsport Technical Institute (a predecessor of Penn College) in the 1940s to obtain a radio operators license.

It’s true!

Wooly Willy creator Jim Herzog, who died in 2021 at the age of 93, was working with his father, Ralph, and brother Donald at the R.W. Herzog Co. in Smethport, a leading manufacturer of magnetic toys and games, when, in 1955, Herzog found that the dust that resulted from grinding could be used for magnetic drawing. According to his obituary, he attended WTI classes with neighbor Bob Alderfer in the summers of 1943 and 1944, while still in high school, to obtain his radio operators license. He completed a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Penn State in 1949. Now produced by PlayMonster, more than 75 million Wooly Willy toys have been sold.

The co-creator of Spider-Man attended classes at Williamsport Technical Institute in the 1940s to obtain a radio operators license.

We’re lying.

While Spider-Man co-creator Stephen Ditko was born and raised in Pennsylvania, he attended what was is now known as the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

A former Philadelphia Eagles owner attended classes at Williamsport Technical Institute in the 1940s to obtain a radio operators license.

True!

According to the Feb. 27, 1945, edition of the Shenandoah Evening Herald, Jerry Wolman, who owned the Philadelphia Eagles from 1963 to 1969, qualified for work as a U.S. Merchant Marine radio officer after studying in WTI’s Radio Communication Department. After serving two years with the merchant marine, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked in a paint store and was inspired to start his own real estate and development business. In 1963, at age 36, the Schuylkill County native became the youngest NFL owner up to that time when he purchased his favorite team for $5.5 million. Wolman died in 2013 at the age of 86. Read more about him.

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Penn College Magazine, the magazine of Pennsylvania College of Technology, is dedicated to sharing the educational development, goals and achievements of students, alumni, faculty and staff with one another and with the greater community.

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