'Penn College & You' to Spotlight 'Builders of Tomorrow'

Published 04.29.2005


The intensity of preparing for a global competition and the exhilaration of a job well-done are captured in the May episode of "Penn College & You," which comprehensively chronicles two Pennsylvania College of Technology teams in competition at the International Home Builders Show in Orlando, Fla.

The new episode of the award-winning series premieres at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, on SusCom Channel 2 (the Williamsport area's cable provider), with rebroadcasts at 7 p.m. on subsequent Sundays and Tuesdays throughout the month. The show also can be viewed on other cable systems around the state and on the DISH Network.

Next month's episode, exhaustively culled from hours of video footage from the students' initial legwork in the fall through the January event at the massive Orange County Convention Center focuses on two- and four-year teams vying in the National Association of Home Builders residential-construction competition. Approximating real-life projects, the two-year entrants were tasked with planning the reconstruction of a hurricane-damaged home and the four-year students challenged to develop building plans for an entire housing subdivision.

The two-year students won a second consecutive first-place finish, while the four-year team in just its second year at the competition finished 10th in a strong 28-school field.

And while the half-hour show applauds those achievements, it also celebrates the hands-on instruction that gave this Penn College "David" an impressive edge against the "Goliath" of competitors from far-larger institutions.

"Those guys sit in the classroom all day and they learn their management stuff," notes Thomas A. Fedor of Whitehall, a member of the two-year team. "We get out in the field and we . . . get down and dirty with it. We know how it works, how it's put together."

While the students' perspective and dedication drives the episode, the show includes interviews with a literally supportive cast: industry leaders impressed with the work ethic instilled in Penn College's classrooms and laboratories . . . human-resources personnel, ever watchful for qualified job recruits . . . and a very proud faculty adviser to the winning teams.

"A senior VP walked right up to one of our young men and patted him on the back and shook his hand," notes Richard L. Druckenmiller, instructor of building construction technology. "And coming up to me and saying, 'We need your people. Send them down. We need as many as we can get.' That's a great statement about our college and our students."

If comments from the awards-night podium are any indication, that reputation is spreading far beyond the builders' show.

"In this particular case, this school's really raising the bar. I think they're really challenging all the rest of the two-year schools to step up to the plate," announces Bill Faulk, director of construction services (mid-Atlantic region) for Centex Homes, before his remarks are drowned by applause at the words, "For the second year in a row . . . "

"I was nervous at first, and then, as soon as they said, 'Two years in a row,' it was like a burden right off my shoulders," reflects Trevor T. Krize, Birdsboro. "I was happy really happy."

Also pleased was his four-year colleague, David F. Hodgman, Chambersburg, whose team finished seven spots higher than last year.

"The magnitude of the project most professionals can't even comprehend, so, for a group of five students to do this with no support . . . other than just the information that we have the research that we can do, we are so happy with everything that we received," he said. "I couldn't be happier."

Joining Fedor and Krize on the two-year team were Benjamin W. Copenhaver, Reinholds; Bradley E. Hughes, Franklin; and Douglas H. McGahen, Erie. Members of the four-year team, in addition to Hodgman, were Jeremy Tenio, Clarks Summit; David G. Mazaika Jr., McAdoo; John D. Morgan, Williamsport; and Connor G. McBride, Monmouth Beach, N.J.

The students will gather on campus Tuesday for the show's premiere, marking what host/co-executive producer Tom Speicher notes is their emergence as "champions of the future.

"Thanks to years of study and a challenging competition featuring a couple hundred of the best and brightest, the students have laid a foundation for an enriching career in one of the nation's most vital industries," Speicher comments in the show.

Christopher J. Leigh, a digital media developer, is the videographer/editor/executive producer for "Penn College & You."

Other Pennsylvania cable systems airing the series this season are: Altoona, Danville, Erie, Harrisburg, Hazleton, Lehighton, Lewisburg, Mansfield/Wellsboro, Milton, Reading, Watsontown, Wilkes-Barre and York.

"Penn College & You" also is shown on 45 cable affiliates in 17 states, representing 5.33 million households.

This month's show will be broadcast nationwide to all DISH Network subscribers on Universityhouse Channel 9411 on Saturday, May 8, and Sunday, May 8, at 1 and 6 p.m. (Eastern time).