Lehigh Valley senator, PPL president tour Penn College labs

Published 04.18.2024

Photos by Cindy D. Meixel, writer/editor-Penn College News

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Bradley M. Webb (left), dean of engineering technologies, leads the tour through Penn College’s impressive electrical technology labs, including the Programmable Logic Controller Lab. From right: Michael J. Reed, college president; Sen. Nick Miller (D-14); Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23); and Christine M. Martin, president of PPL Electric Utilities.

Sen. Nick Miller, a Democrat whose 14th senatorial district comprises portions of Lehigh and Northampton counties, visited Pennsylvania College of Technology Thursday, taking in a variety of instructional areas along with members of his staff, college administrators, and state Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23), who chairs the Penn College Board of Directors, and his staff.

Coincidentally, Miller’s campus call overlapped with a visit by Christine M. Martin, president of PPL Electric Utilities, and other PPL employees. (PPL Corporation is based in Allentown, Miller’s home and district office location.) The two groups merged for the same tour, covering construction, electrical, machining, welding, collision repair and automated manufacturing labs. Along the way, they learned about the Clean Energy Center, architecture & sustainable design majors, and the upcoming Baja SAE international competition. 

Earlier in the day, Miller and his entourage stopped at the college’s Schneebeli Earth Science Center near Allenwood for a glimpse into the diesel technology, electric power generation, forestry and horticulture majors before continuing onto the main campus in Williamsport. 

Miller represents one of the fastest-growing regions of the state, home to hundreds of Penn College alumni and an array of the college’s industry partners, including PPL, B. Braun Medical Inc., Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Luke’s University Health Network. Based on its economic development projects, the Lehigh Valley is ranked #1 in the U.S. among mid-sized markets (population 200,000 to 1 million) by Site Selection magazine and is the 56th largest manufacturing market in the U.S. based on economic output of $8.1 billion in 2022. Home to well-known global and national brands, Lehigh Valley has 15,000 employers and a 1.7 million labor force.

Among the Penn College contingent guiding the visitors across the campuses were President Michael J. Reed; Loni N. Kline, senior vice president for college relations; Patrick Marty, chief government and international relations officer; Alison A. Diehl, executive director of the Clean Energy Center; Kyle A. Smith, senior executive director of college relations; Bradley M. Webb, dean of engineering technologies; and Justin W. Beishline, assistant dean of diesel technologies and natural resources. Also joining was Mike Stefan, vice president for government relations, Penn State. Stefan is the newest member of the Penn College Board of Directors.

At the start of the tour, Reed greets Miller in a college construction lab as Diehl looks on.
Diehl offers an overview of the Clean Energy Center and its upcoming collaboration with construction majors to build a home energy training house on Penn College’s main campus, with groundbreaking set for late June. Kline is on the far right next to Michael J. Krajsa, an adviser to Miller and retired Penn State Lehigh Valley management and marketing faculty.
Webb guides the guests into electrical technology’s spacious Motor Control Lab.
The combined tour groups make their way into Lycoming Engines Metal Trades Center, home to the Larry A. Ward Machining Technologies Center.
Reed, Miller and Krajsa enjoy a moment in the Baja Room, where students are prepping for the May 16-19 Baja SAE international competition, to be hosted by Penn College at its Heavy Construction Equipment Operations Site.
In the expansive welding lab, visitors view more of the college’s striking equipment, including this CNC plasma table.
The tour ends in the Gene Haas Center for Innovative Manufacturing, with Webb engaging Miller and his district director Connor Corpora (center).