Spring flashback: Northern Ireland visitors are a highlight

Published 05.24.2024

Photos by Richard Duffy, NWRC engineering lecturer, and various Penn College staff: Cindy Meixel, Tom Speicher, Kim Cassel, Sue Mahaffey, Anthony Pace, Erin Shultz, Stacey Hampton & Shannon Munro

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The visitors from Northern Ireland's North West Regional College pause for a photo with Penn College President Michael J. Reed (fifth from left), while attending the second annual Wildcat Rotorfest, hosted by the emergency management & homeland security major.

Before diving into summer, Penn College News would like to glance back at a highlight of spring: the two-week visit by our new friends from Northern Ireland's North West Regional College.

The contingent of 12 students and two faculty members visited Penn College early last month. Half of the group is studying cybersecurity at NWRC, with the others focused on engineering fields.

The students are: Michael Donaghy, Conor Edwards, Jamie Hockley, Oisin Kelly, Niamh McAuley, David McGill, Kealan McGill, Gary McKinley, Joel Moore, Zach Richardson, Sean Sweeney and William Thompson. They were joined by Richard Duffy, a lecturer in engineering, and Violet Toland, a lecturer and curriculum lead in computing and IT/cybersecurity.

At the Fish Real Estate Challenge Course on Penn College's campus, NWRC students begin a team-building exercise at the seesaw feature.

Besides attending Penn College classes in their respective disciplines, the group engaged in industry tours to PMF Industries, UPMC and West Pharmaceuticals. They attended Penn College events, enjoyed local restaurants and visited Penn State‚Äôs main campus. Their final weekend was spent in Philadelphia. 

Included among the group's favorite Penn College experiences were team-building activities on the Fish Real Estate Leadership Challenge Course, a tour of the Schneebeli Earth Science Center, and an outing with President Michael J. Reed that featured a nature hike and a visit to his home.

This was the second year Penn College has hosted a NWRC cultural exchange. Based in Derry, NWRC has five campuses that support more than 10,000 students.

An article on the visit and a short report on the guests' first day can be viewed on Penn College News. Below, enjoy a range of images from their various activities.

Krishna C. Vistarakula (on right), instructor of manufacturing engineering technology, gives the NWRC engineering students an overview of equipment in Penn College's new additive manufacturing lab.
In a Penn College gaming lab, NWRC cybersecurity students Oisin Kelly (left) and Conor Edwards get hands on with computer technology.
Into the woods! The group begins a hike with the college president.
A photo op along the way: the Northern Ireland guests are bookended by Reed and canine friend (on left) and Anthony J. Pace (on right), associate vice president for enrollment and academic operations.
All that effort is worth the view!
At PMF Industries, the engineering group is seen with Ken Healy (far right), executive vice president and director of engineering, and Penn College alumnus Derek F. Knipe (third from right), a manufacturing engineer.
Healy gives the Northern Ireland visitors a broad tour of the Williamsport company ...
... that manufactures and assembles custom flow-formed metal parts and components.
The cybersecurity group gains information technology insights at UPMC Williamsport ...
... and receives tutorials on the healthcare system's extensive information technology management and security program, including the UPMC Ireland network.
Back on campus for a little lacrosse play on the UPMC Athletic Field
At the Challenge Course: a circle in time is facilitated by Rob Cooley (at center in light blue t-shirt), anthropology/environmental science professor.
Sean Sweeney makes his way on the tricky "Z Steps" as friendly "spotters" stand ready to assist.
NWRC faculty member Duffy also steps up to the challenge.
Getting out of one's comfort zone, indeed!
Trust and laughter are regular elements on the Challenge Course.
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter lands on a college lawn, as NWRC visitors watch ...
... and capture footage during the popular Rotorfest.
The Northern Ireland visitors enjoy the event and ideal spring weather.
Edwards signals a thumbs-up from the pilot's seat of an Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter ...
... and also tries on the flight crew's headgear.
A group photo with a state police Bell Jet Ranger helicopter
Rescue stretchers provide insight and entertainment.
Full engagement with the Army National Guard ground support vehicles
In the college's Gene Haas Center for Innovative Manufacturing, Kealan McGill (left) and Sweeney listen intently to Gavin Baer, a manufacturing engineering technology student from Brainbridge, as he handles the teach pendant for a Kawasaki robot.
Nicolas A. Wilson (right), of Muncy Valley, studying automated manufacturing technology, shows the visitors a robot gripper.
Some of the keepsakes produced by the visitors with manufacturing equipment
David McGill (left) and Niamh McAuley concentrate in a gaming lab ...
... as NWRC faculty member Toland (left) listens to Alicia L. McNett, assistant professor of computer information technology.
Sweeney and Gary McKinley are happy to sport Penn College and Penn State attire.
Another impressive Penn College lab offers up-to-date exposure in electronics and mechatronics.
Board meeting! The college's Workforce Development division offers its expertise in apprenticeships.
The iconic Old Main on Penn State's main campus is a must for memories.
The visitors take in Penn State's Engineering Design & Innovation building ...
... and its many eye-opening advancements.
Of course, no visit to Penn State is complete without a stop at The Creamery! McAuley and Jamie Hockley (right) savor the sweetness.
The foyer at Penn College's Earth Science Center provides a perfect setting for another collective keepsake.
Hockley takes her turn with an excavator challenge.
Also in the Earth Science atrium, Edwards (on right) leans in for a bear hug as William Thompson looks on.
Before the group's final presentations, Stephen R. Cheskiewicz (at front on left), associate professor of computer information technology, and his son, socialize with their new friends.
McKinley (center) chats with Penn College students Melanie Hein (left), of New Tripoli, civil engineering, and Morgan O. Hess, of Philadelphia, biomedical sciences. Hein and Hess had taken some of the Northern Ireland visitors fishing at Rock Run.
Pace welcomes the presenters and guests to the final event in the Presentation Room of the Davie Jane Gilmour Center.
David McGill says the UPMC visit "was extremely insightful" and mentions that the Pennsylvania "greenery somewhat reminds me of Ireland."
The Cheskiewiczs pose questions.
Also engaging the guests is Daniel J. Clasby, assistant dean of academic operations.
Hockley, McAuley and McKinley listen to audience questions.
Toland enjoys the light-hearted exchange.
The full group on their final day on campus
Sue A. Mahaffey, manager of senior project and planning, enrollment and academic operations, presents certificates to each of the NWRC students, including Zach Richardson ...
... and Kealan McGill.
Philadelphia provides an exciting exit to their U.S. visit ...
... and the famous Rocky statue presents a winning moment.