Penn College Students Warm Hearts, Home in Season of Giving

Published 12.03.2009

Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning
Student News

Pennsylvania College of Technology students recently joined Richard C. Taylor, associate professor of plumbing and heating, and contractor Robert W. Dittmar Jr. in a boiler-replacement project at a Muncy home. From left are Robert C. Barbera, Elmsford, N.Y.%3B Taylor%3B Joshua D. Saeler, Fenelton%3B Brittany A. Hoey, East Stroudsburg%3B Timothy A. Loxley II, Cresson%3B Gary D. Paronish, Lebanon%3B Dittmar%3B Ryan M. Pribell, Columbus, N.J.%3B Bradley T. Rydbom, Tyrone%3B and Gregory J. Miller, of Easton.As October brought chilly warnings of the winter to come, as temperatures dropped and the wind blew and a Muncy resident's boiler sputtered toward its end, a group of Pennsylvania College of Technology students and a faculty member volunteered in the timely installation of a heating system for the area senior citizen.

"This is an answer to prayer," said Helen Rohm, grateful for her now-toasty home, where members of Richard C. Taylor's Hydronic Heating Systems class helped cut rusted piping, remove the hulking boiler and cart it up a flight of stairs, and set the newone in place.

The students aided a crew from Robert W. Dittmar Plumbing & Heating, the Muncy contracting firm that led the "Oil Heat Cares" project. Under that nonprofit program, sponsored by the National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers, funds are provided for a replacement boiler that local technicians donate their time to install.

Gregory J. Miller, at work on a boiler-replacement project.Among the students were Brittany A. Hoey, of East Stroudsburg, enrolled in the two-yearheating, ventilation and air conditioningtechnology major (with plans to continue toward a four-year degree upon graduation), and Gregory J. Miller, of Easton, seeking his associate degree in HVAC technology as well as a bachelor's degree in building automation technology. Both appreciated the opportunity to contribute to the job while learning practical applications of their theory and lab instruction from open-hearted tradesmen willing to share their skills.

"It was a really nice experience," said Hoey, who like Miller was drawn to the HVAC field through a high school vocational-education program. "The (Dittmar employees) explained everything that they were doing and, if there was something that we didn't understand, they took the time to show it to us."

Brittany A. Hoey joins classmates in manuevering an old boiler up the stairs.Limited by their class schedule, the students weren't on hand to fully savor the fruit of their labor. But they certainly did their part in the installation, donning safety glasses and wielding tools to get as much work done as possible in their small window of availability.

"It definitely was ready to go," Miller said of the existing boiler. "From the looks of it the amount of rust, just the type of boiler it was you could tell a new one was needed."

The boiler was 40 years old and wept puddles on the basement floor from its weakening steel walls, concurred Taylor, an associate professor of plumbing and heating in Penn College's School of Construction and Design Technologies. Adding to the situation, he said, Rohm's elderly sister recently came to stay with her.

Contractor Robert W. Dittmar and homeowner Helen Rohm, alongside the woman's replacement boiler."My comments echo the homeowner's," Taylor said. "Thank God for those willing to help when help is needed. These contractors and students have used their skills to serve others with great effect."

Dittmar, too, welcomed the students' help and explained to them helpful tricks of the trade industry "best practices" that will accompany them in their future work. The class took away something less tangible, as well: the reward that comes from doing something for someone in need.

"It was a great learning experience that gave us, through the hands-on practice, an idea of what to expect on the job," Miller said. "And when I think of those ladies in that warm house, and realize that we helped do that, it's a good feeling."

For more information about the School of Construction and Design Technologies, visit online or call 570-327-4518. For more about Penn College, visit on the Web , e-mail or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Photos provided by Richard C, Taylor, associate professor of plumbing and heating