College spotlights aviation alumnus at Chamber event

Published 03.06.2020

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Christopher M. Gayman, a graduate of Pennsylvania College of Technology and OEM sales manager for Lycoming Engines, received an Alumni of the Year Award at Thursday's 19th annual Education Celebration hosted by the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce.

The award – part of an event that recognizes the essential collaboration among school districts, colleges, and business and industry – is given to a graduate who has made a significant contribution to the quality of life in Lycoming County, has excelled in his or her own profession, and is active in the community.

Presenter and honoree reconnect after the ceremony for a celebratory photo.Michael J. Reed, vice president for academic affairs/provost, presented the award to Gayman, who earned two degrees from Penn College: an associate degree in aviation technology and a bachelor’s in aviation maintenance technology.

"First employed as a technical support representative, he now manages most of Lycoming’s domestic customers – including such well-known names as Piper and Cessna," he said, noting the college's long-standing relationship with Lycoming Engines. Gayman serves as a corporate adviser to the aviation program, is active in workforce development and delivered 15 aircraft engines to the college's Lumley Aviation Center in 2018: "a considerable investment in the future of the industry," Reed said.

"At 31, aside from an unhealthy love of airplanes and expensive cars, I've been able to pay off my student debt and am almost debt-free at my young age," Gayman told high school students and their parents. "If that doesn't sell you on some level of interest in the trades, I really don't know what will."It's an investment that Gayman is more than eager to perpetuate.

“In the past few years, there seems to be stigma that's been put on the people who are good at the trades, good with their hands,” he told the Williamsport Country Club audience. “They’re somehow sold as not being as smart or as well-paid as some of our academic friends. But the reality, in my opinion, is that those people are often the smartest people that you interact with. They are the ones that can fix the things that are broken and they can create things from scratch."

The event also included an Alumni of the Year Award presented by Lycoming College to Mark C. Sitler, vice president of the Hartman Agency Inc.; awards to outstanding teachers and students from nine Lycoming County schools; and a Business Partner in Education Award to High Steel Structures.

The college connection was evident in many of those awards, as well.

Gayman is congratulated by the college's alumni director.Two of the honored students – East Lycoming's Rachel Bitler and Muncy's Madesyn Brelsford – are graduates of Penn College's Youth Leadership Program. Bitler, Maxwell Ferguson (Jersey Shore Area), Mertes (Montoursville Area), Ring (Montgomery Area) and Wagner (Williamsport Area) have participated in the Penn College NOW dual-enrollment program.

Sitler serves as chair of Penn College Foundation board, and High Steel, represented by plant manager and 2010 Penn College alumnus Jacob D. Fisher, is a generous supporter of the institution's welding program.

Joining Reed in representing the college were Tanya Berfield, director of college transitions and first year initiatives; Elizabeth A. Biddle, director of corporate relations; Kimberly R. Cassel, director of alumni relations; Walter V. Gower, assistant dean of transportation and natural resources technologies (and a member of the aviation faculty during Gayman's education); Laura M. Machak, dual enrollment specialist; Patrick Marty, chief of staff/assistant to the president for college relations; Carolyn R. Strickland, vice president for enrollment management/associate provost; Elliot Strickland, vice president for student affairs; Bradley M. Webb, dean of industrial, computing and engineering technologies; and Randy J. Zangara, dean of college transitions and first year initiatives.