"The college’s renovated machining lab is special. The Larry A. Ward Machining Technologies Center is by far the most comprehensive introductory machining technology center I have ever seen."
- Automated Manufacturing & Machining
If it’s broke, he’s determined to fix it. Howard’s passion for problem solving was ignited at an early age and inspired him to pursue a career in machining. After 20+ years of working in the field, sharing this experience became his new mission. “The only thing I love more than manufacturing and machining is teaching,” he says.
TAKING THE LEAD
Q&A with Howard
WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN METAL FABRICATION?
It was out of necessity. When I was young, my family did not have a lot of money. When my friends got dirt bikes, my father brought home a dirt bike with a blown-up motor. He showed me how to rebuild and fabricate what was needed to get the motor working again. To this day, when I want or need something, I build it. I enjoy the satisfaction of building and fixing items that were destined to be discarded.
WHY DID YOU MAKE THE CHANGE FROM INDUSTRY TO EDUCATION?
When I was a toolmaker, I was assigned two high school apprentices. I worked with them over a two-year period. It was very fulfilling to watch them develop the skillset for a career in machining/manufacturing.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT TEACHING?
It’s a combination of passing on what I know and seeing the students’ skills grow throughout the class. I have always said that the only thing I enjoy more than machining/manufacturing is teaching others. I want them to experience the same joy and satisfaction from their careers like I have.
WHAT MAKES THE COLLEGE'S RENOVATED MACHINING LAB SO SPECIAL?
When we were discussing the renovation of the Larry A. Ward Machining Technologies Center, we asked ourselves what would make it rise above similar labs. New and more technology-based machines were at the top of the list. We had noticed that our students loved the conversational computer-numeric-control machines that we had recently purchased. So we went from seven to 36 conversational CNC machines. Instead of the old way of programming, these machines incorporate an interactive conversation with the operator, making it a much less intimidating way to write programs.
We also replaced our older electrical discharge machines with four new Sodick Wire EDMs with modern conversational controls. We are one of the few colleges that has an electrical discharge machining class in all machining degree programs. Other new items include a state-of-the-art coordinate measuring machine and 3D printer. Of course, we revamped our curriculum to take full advantage of the new facility. It is by far the most comprehensive introductory machining technology center I have ever seen, and that was our goal.
WHAT IS MECHATRONICS?
A mechatronics technician performs a combination of mechanical, electrical, and electronic setup and repair. I don’t think there is another skillset that allows the diversity of career choices that mechatronics offers. You can work outdoors (amusement parks, wind turbines, etc.) or in a climate-controlled facility, such as a food or medicine manufacturer. The onset of more automation being implemented in various aspects of our lives reinforces the need for mechatronics technicians. Graduates always talk about how much variety is a part of their work day. They are always doing something different than the day before.
WHY SHOULD A STUDENT CONSIDER PENN COLLEGE?
The combination of industry-standard equipment and faculty who have years of real-world experience yields tremendous results for our students. They are in demand!
At the recent Career Fair, there was a 15:1 ratio of available jobs per student.
Automated Manufacturing & Machining
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