Student

Jeff Martin, Jr.

  • Automated Manufacturing & Machining

Building and creating is part of his identity. After completing three years in a mechanical engineering program at a large university, Jeff knew it was time for a change. He was missing out on what he loved. He craved the hands-on experience. And that's exactly what he found at Penn College. 

 

Jeff Martin, Jr.

Q&A with Jeff

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO TRANSFER?

I was studying mechanical engineering, but I wanted a better hands-on learning experience. At my other university, if I wanted to apply the things that I was learning, I had to do it on my own time. I could be designing stuff and working with my hands all the time at Penn College. Here, the hands-on experience is paired directly with theory. It’s immersed in theory. I can have both of those things at Penn College.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE DEGREE YOU WERE PURSUING AND YOUR NEW ONE?

My major at my last school was mechanical engineering and my major at Penn College is manufacturing engineering technology. The primary difference is that with a mechanical engineering degree, I'm expected to have a broad knowledge in everything regarding design and just a general sense of mechanical assemblies and things like that. And then at Penn College, I'm guaranteed a very specialized education and everything that I need to solve complex manufacturing problems and that's paired with hands-on experience.

WHY TRANSFER WHEN YOU ALREADY HAD THREE YEARS AT YOUR PREVIOUS SCHOOL?

Working with my hands and building things is a part of my identity. I felt a lack of motivation at my previous school because I couldn't do that. I just needed a change to feel fulfilled every day. I had to leave to get motivation and find purpose. It paid off, because I'm working hands-on every day at Penn College. And I need that.

WHERE YOU WORRIED ABOUT ADDING TIME TO YOUR DEGREE COMPLETION?

I just weighed that against how long I'd be in Pittsburgh. And I thought that if I'm going be there and not doing stuff that I love a hundred percent, then I prefer to go to Penn College and know that I have the best of both worlds. I’m going to be here a little bit longer, but knowing that I love it more makes it worthwhile.

HOW DID YOU FIND PENN COLLEGE?

I found Penn College through a Google search. I just typed in ‘engineering technology’ and it came up. Then I browsed the website and watched a couple of videos. I saw the labs and thought, “This looks like a good place.” I called and started asking questions. Plus, it’s relatively close to Pittsburgh. It was a big deal for me to be able to travel back home because my girlfriend and my family are there. Then I came for a tour and was sold.

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM YOUR TOUR?

I got to talk to some students and faculty and shared my experience at my previous school and how I really struggled to get my hands on a milling machine or a lathe. They said that’s a common experience at other schools and guaranteed that if I come to Penn College that I'd be able to have that. And that I’d be able to explore outside of class and use the labs. Plus, there's all these professionals that have industry experience. That was all I needed to hear.

WHAT ARE YOU INSTRUCTORS LIKE?

At my previous university, you could tell immediately who was there to teach and who was there to further their research or who had industry experience and who was purely in academia. At Penn College, some of my instructors have day jobs as machinists and engineers. They come here and bring tools from their job and show us stuff from their jobs. They're applying the stuff that they're doing at work with us. So that's really cool.

WILL YOUR DEGREE FROM PENN COLLEGE CHANGE YOUR TRAJECTORY?

No, and that was something that I really liked about Penn College. I came here and talked with a lot of professors because that was one of my concerns. I asked how I was going be competitive in the job force against other applicants from other bigger schools. They ensured me that whenever you come to Penn College there are a lot of opportunities. We have a large job fair and the skillset that you get from Penn College will make you more competitive than people from other schools because you'll have all the things that the other schools have plus the hands-on experience, and employers really like that.

HOW DID YOU CONNECT WITH PEOPLE WHEN YOU FIRST GOT HERE?

When I first got here, I didn't know anybody. I found a lot of stuff online, doing Google searches to see what is there to do in Williamsport and what housing is available. That’s how I found my current living situation, just calling around, looking at websites. Then when I moved in, I found that there's a lot of Penn College students who live around me. I was able to meet people in the parking lot of my building and things like that. I also like going to different restaurants and I'll meet Penn College students. And here at the school, I'll walk into a lab and introduce myself and ask students what they're working on. I met somebody the first Friday I was here, so we've been working together. He’s been mentoring me and we work on projects together. So it's pretty cool.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE CONSIDERING TRANSFERRING?

It's really helped me to jump right into it and try to meet as many people as possible and explore as many labs and learn about as many different engineering technologies as I can. I try to get as much experience on equipment and just take advantage of experience fully, because I think Penn College has a lot to offer. Even times when I didn't make the initial leap, people have come up to me and offered help and helped further my experience, even though I didn't ask for it. They just want to help. And, if you say “yes,” they're more than willing to go above and beyond for you.

WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?

I mainly work on my business. I started a mechanical design business about two years ago. It consists of making custom motorsports parts and prototypes for startups or individuals that do crowdfunding. So people come to me and say they need a motorcycle part designed or I have this computer and want me to design a case that they can put their hardware in a certain configuration. They tell me that it needs to be optimized for space and have these features and be out of this material. And I provide mechanical design services. I take drawings and I make it into a model. And then I work with them to find manufacturing solutions.

WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING TO DO AFTER GRADUATION?

I have some experience working in industry already, doing undergraduate research, and working with big companies and small start startup style companies. And I just found that I don't mesh with certain parts of every industry. I enjoy like exploring and being my own boss. I'm going to have to create the job that I want in the future. I'll probably have to get a job working for somebody else in the near future. But my long-term goal is to have my own shop and be my own boss and pursue my business full-time. So I’d love to have a main manufacturing and design facility where I integrate robotics and automation into the manufacturing process and I can do design. So I can do prototyping, take somebody's idea from start to finish, and then give them the end product completely in house. That's my dream. I hope I can do that full-time someday.
Student Experience

"Being immersed in a culture of students who have the same type of hands-on experience and are motivated in the same ways as you is the best thing. I feel more similar and more immersed here at Penn College, because my goals and the things that I want to learn and how I want to learn them are more closely aligned with others. I think for most people here, making things is part of their identity. I love that part of being at Penn College."

Jeff Martin, Jr.

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Automated Manufacturing & Machining

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