"No matter what you do or what you make or who you work for, you've got to have pride in what you're doing. Penn College makes that very easy to do. They challenge you to conduct yourself at a very high level. You then require the same from your students. And that breeds success. Our students are able to very quickly and easily separate themselves from their peers. As a result, you see progress and you see success. Then that just makes you want to have it even more."
- Welding & Metal Fabrication
He’s an instructor who will make you better. We’re not talking about technical talents alone. Ryan will bring out the best in you. He’ll challenge you to solve complex problems. Inspire you to strive for perfection. And groom you to become the leader that others are proud to follow.
TAKING THE LEAD
Q&A with Ryan
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE DEMAND FOR YOUR WELDING STUDENTS?
The demand is very high for our students. That's evidenced by our 98% placement rate. We often have employers show up with opportunities and we just don't have enough students to fill them. I think that's a result of the skill sets that our students have. It's very diverse. They are not just welders here. We make sure that they're also effective communicators and troubleshooters. We try to promote a systems mindset so they can get to the root cause of problems. They look at improving a system, rather than blaming some of the problems on the people in the system. That really helps them have an impact when they get into the industry. We create scenarios in the labs that challenge them and are based on real-world scenarios. They have a comfort level so they're capable and able to handle some of the things that industry throws at them. I think that plays a large part in our placement.
IS IT FAIR TO SAY A LOT OF YOUR STUDENTS HAVE JOBS LINED UP PRIOR TO GRADUATING?
We push internships very heavily. We've had students have internships between their freshman and sophomore years. We'll make sure they diversify and work for different companies and get different exposures. Then, as a result of that experience, coupled with the education they're getting here, many times they have their jobs lined up by their junior years. There are some seniors who are looking for jobs as graduation draws near, but for the most part, students have confidence knowing that they're going to be gainfully employed well before they graduate.
WHAT DOES THE INDUSTRY TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR STUDENTS?
The feedback that we get from industry is how well prepared they are and the impact that they're able to have. Quite often, the expectations are kind of low for graduates because of a lack of experience. But we consistently get feedback that they exceeded expectations. As a result, we continue to drive our curriculum and our program to make sure that we continue to do so. There's a large effort towards continuous improvement, with not only our curriculum, but the skill sets that our students have. And we have to instill those values into our students as well.
WOULD YOU SAY YOUR STUDENTS ARE SUCCESSFUL LEADERS?
They are. They make an impact and are leaders. We try to instill upon them, not only why they're doing the things they're doing, but the hows and the ins and the outs of it. And then as a result, they're able to teach other people. I think that's really what makes our students capable and good leaders. They're able to enhance the company they work for, but also the people they work with.
HOW DO YOU FEEL KNOWING THAT YOU PLAY A HAND IN SHAPING THE WORKFORCE?
It's extremely rewarding. Working in industry in and of itself is rewarding. But the rewards you get from having an impact with these students, and the feedback you get as a result, are too. For example, if I made an improvement on a product and the industry, it was because I was proud of the product and I wanted to make an improvement for my customers, but I usually never got to meet my customers. So now when I make an improvement and it has an impact, I hear it directly from them. I hear it from the companies that they work for. Oftentimes I hear it from their parents. It's a lot more fulfilling. I get a lot of feedback relative to student success. Every day I make a difference and I try and make sure that I'm preparing the students to also make a difference.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE CAMPUS ENVIRONMENT?
There's an energy here that I haven't seen replicated anywhere else. You walk through the campus and it's beautiful. It's well groomed. You can tell that everybody cares. From the landscapers all the way out through, to the instructors. It's unlike anything I've ever experienced anywhere else. I missed it when I graduated from Penn College a while back. But, when I came back here to work, it was still the same. So I was very excited about that. There's a buzz on campus about, you know, people caring and doing good things and trying to improve themselves and others. You can see it everywhere on campus.
Recognized with the highest honor
Ryan was presented with the highest honor accorded to Penn College faculty: the Veronica M. Muzic Master Teacher Award.
Making an international impact
A massive structure meant to encourage the “ecological awakening of humanity” can trace its foundation across the Atlantic Ocean to the welding expertise found at Penn College. Ryan, fellow welding instructors, and 15 students spent 10 weeks fabricating the structural framework for the Living Chapel situated in the Botanical Garden of Rome.
Welding & Metal Fabrication
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