Penn College prepped to again engage Farm Show attendees

Published 01.04.2023

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As the commonwealth celebrates anew the breadth of its agriculture heritage, representatives of Pennsylvania College of Technology will again be on hand to epitomize those who have helped the industry thrive for centuries.

Students and employees will represent the college at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg from Jan. 7-14, reflecting the 2023 theme of “Rooted in Progress.” The show – the largest indoor expo of its kind under one roof – provides a fascinating glimpse into a $185 billion segment of the state’s economy and the half-million people who fuel its success through innovation and inspiration.

Darren J. Layre, a 2015 Pennsylvania College of Technology alumnus in culinary arts & systems and culinary arts technology, works with 2018 baking & pastry arts graduate Olivia M. Lunger at the 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Show. Layre will be among the successful alumni returning to the Farm Show stage in Harrisburg this month for the state’s 107th annual agricultural exposition. (Photo by Davey Rudy, PA Preferred)Penn College’s presence throughout the signature event begins with Chefs Michael J. Ditchfield and Mike S. Dinan, along with nine culinary students from the School of Business, Arts & Sciences.

They will spend the opening days at the 2300 N. Cameron St. complex (Saturday, Jan. 7, and Sunday, Jan. 8) joined by celebrity and alumni chefs and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture on the Culinary Connection stage.  A Student Cooking Challenge will be there at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Ditchfield, an instructor of hospitality management/culinary arts, will make Mushroom Cappuccino and Mushroom Flatbread Pizza at 11 a.m. Saturday; Dinan, an interim sous chef at the college, will prepare Root Vegetable Hash at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Among those who will be assisted by Penn College students are:

  • Leah Cohen, a judge on PBS’ “The Great American Recipe” (the second season of which is in production for premiere this summer) and a former “Top Chef” contestant on Bravo. She is the chef and owner of Pig & Khao and its sister restaurant, Piggyback, in Manhattan. (Noon and 2 p.m. Saturday)

  • 2015 alumnus Darren J. Layre, executive chef at Alta Via Pizzeria in Pittsburgh (4 p.m. Saturday)

  • 2013 alumna Kristina M. Wisneski, a Food Network “Chopped” champion and recipient of the college’s Alumni Achievement Award in May 2019. Wisneski is sous chef at Pure Roots Provisions in King of Prussia. (Noon Sunday)

  • 2013 alumnus Richard J. McGlynn III, baker at 40 North Bar & Restaurant in Pittsburgh. (2 p.m. Sunday)

Representatives of a number of Penn College offices (Admissions, Alumni Relations, Career Services, College Relations, The College Store, the LEAP Center, and Veterans & Military Services) will staff a booth throughout the week, and the college’s academic schools will oversee a rotating timetable of exciting projects during the 107th annual showcase.

The focus Saturday, Jan. 7, will be on the college’s manufacturing engineering technology and automated manufacturing majors. In addition to watching a video from the School of Engineering Technologies and seeing a display of parts made by Penn College students, visitors can personalize a titanium name tag using a benchtop laser engraver. The same activity is set for Tuesday, Jan. 10, a reminder of Penn College’s hands-on emphasis.

Also that Saturday night, representatives of The Dr. Welch Workshop: A Makerspace at Penn College will oversee an activity involving 3D pens.

On Sunday, Jan. 8, through the School of Business, Arts & Sciences, Farm Show guests can operate a two-roller mill to produce grist from whole-kernel malt samples and use industry-standard sieves to measure grit-size distribution. The activities will demonstrably connect the industry – as well as Penn College’s brewing & fermentation science certificate – to Pennsylvania’s agricultural tradition.

"Rooted in Progress"Landscaping/plant production and forest technology will be highlighted on Monday, Jan. 9, and Thursday, Jan. 12, as 3D design software will help patrons virtually beautify – and even “walk through” – their enhanced surroundings, and a chainsaw app connected to a large-screen TV will encourage proper and safe techniques for felling trees. Seed packets will be among the giveaways at the booth that day.

The equipment used and skills gained in robotics and automation coursework will be displayed Wednesday, Jan. 11, in an intriguing interactive egg-candling vision system. Electronics & computer engineering technology faculty will help visitors check eggs before they are packaged and shipped to stores. If a defect is found during the simulation, the system will reject the egg and send a signal to a Programmable Logic Controller and activate a flashing red light.

On Thursday night, K-12 Outreach employees will facilitate a balsa wood airplane project.

The “World of Polymers” will be explored on Friday, Jan. 13, through a variety of exercises designed to bring awareness to the plastics industry and related careers: a demonstration of additive manufacturing, operation of a benchtop thermoforming machine and discussion of sustainability in plastics.

Participants will learn the process of shaping sheet metal, particularly as it relates to the painstaking fitting and refitting of parts employed in collision repair and automotive restoration, on Saturday, Jan. 14, in a program titled, “How to build a metal model car.”

Throughout the week, booth activities will be supplemented with a button-making attraction supervised by college employees.

The Farm Show will be broadcast on television and streamed through the Pennsylvania Cable Network.For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.