Students ride-share to 'mind-blowing' Komatsu experience
A cross-curricular group of eight students and two faculty members recently traveled south for Komatsu Demo Days and a factory tour, hosted by one of Pennsylvania College of Technology's valued Corporate Tomorrow Makers.
Diesel equipment technology faculty members Chris S. Weaver, assistant professor, and Ryan W. Peck, instructor, flew to Georgia, while the students opted to share the ride in the fleeting days of the Spring 2023 semester.
Making the trip were Michael J. Sormilic, of Southbury, Connecticut; Jake M. Spinosa, of Wood Ridge, New Jersey; Matthew J. Biehl, of Silverdale; Gabi R. Shepherd, of Hawley; Shelby L. Bruce, of Towanda; Kohlton L. Corchado, of Pittsburgh; Arik W. Shildt, of Altoona; and Morgan T. Bartholomew, of Etters.
Three of the students graduated a short time later: Sormilic, then-president of the Service Technicians & Operators Association, in building automation engineering technology and electric power generation technology: diesel emphasis; Biehl, club treasurer, in heavy construction equipment technology: operator emphasis; and Corchado in heavy construction equipment technology: technician emphasis.
Spinosa, club vice president, and Shepherd are enrolled in heavy construction equipment technology: technician emphasis; Bruce in electric power generation technology: diesel emphasis; Shildt in heavy construction equipment technology: technician emphasis; and Bartholomew in plastics & polymer engineering technology. (She also holds a 2023 associate degree in plastics & polymer technology).
"The idea of going to Komatsu Demo Days and touring one of the assembly plants was brought to us right before winter break by (Weaver) through his Komatsu connection, Dave Eister. It was discussed in our weekly meetings and we were able to get a great group of students in different majors to attend," Spinosa said. "There were two main choices of transportation: either fly with our advisers or make the long, 12-hour drive. All the students decided to carpool and drive together, which was a lot of fun; we were able to see much more than we originally set out to do."
The group was treated to an extensive tour of the Cartersville, Georgia, facility, shop and grounds, as well as a safety briefing, before making its way to the demonstration grounds.
"We were shown all the newest and greatest that Komatsu has to offer, including – but not limited to – their brand-new full electric excavator. We were some of the first people in the world to get to operate it," Spinosa said. "Their completely new loader with its new innovative hydraulic system, and a fleet of all their 'dozers and excavators; we were all able to operate everything you could see. Everyone there answered any questions we had and would show us anything we wanted to see."
The group even stayed a few minutes late for photos on the massive, 70-ton rigid-frame haul truck.
The following day included a visit to the Komatsu assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
"At this plant, they assemble their excavators, feller bunchers and their articulated haul trucks," Spinosa explained. "The system they have in place there to have it run smoothly is completely mind-blowing. The excavators start as just a bare frame, and, as they travel down the line on their cart, more and more pieces are added until it is a fully functional machine ready for testing. The most fascinating part to me was how the frames and booms of the excavators were welded together. These frames were placed with an overhead crane into a massive rotator and would be precision-welded by robots."
For more information on related majors in the School of Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4520.