Pennsylvania producer Allan Myers has pledged $250,000 to expand its support of academic programs at Penn College. Those funds – celebrated during an Oct. 17 event – will be used to help meet equipment needs, to expand the company’s financial assistance to students through the Allan Myers Corporate Scholar Program and for branding at the college’s off-road operations site in Brady Township.
“It’s not easy,” Justin W. Beishline, assistant dean of diesel technology and natural resources, said of being an equipment operator. “It takes practice, know-how, patience, room to make mistakes and the opportunity to correct them.”
It’s also difficult to run a degree program in equipment operation, he added, which is why not many colleges do it.
“Think about the fuel, time for equipment repairs, rentals and aging equipment,” he told his audience, which included a large contingent of students who turned out in appreciation of Allan Myers’ substantial commitment. “Think about how Mr. Peck, Welshans and Bashista have to monitor your work safety, while providing you with the best instruction they can.”
Ryan W. Peck is an instructor of diesel equipment technology; Seth J. Welshans and Kenneth J. Bashista are laboratory technicians who support the operations site.
“Well, I can assure you, all the work that goes into this program is recognized by industry and Allan Myers,” Beishline said. “This is why Allan Myers has chosen to invest in your education.”
One of those beneficiaries – student speaker Kyle R. Spoor, of Thompson, enrolled in heavy construction equipment technology: operator emphasis – reflected on his upbringing, his college experience and the very tangible value of industry support.
“The construction industry has always been in my bloodline,” he said. “My uncle owns his own excavating business, and my dad has been a heavy equipment mechanic for 30 years. Working with them over the years made me realize that this industry is where I want to be.”
Operating equipment at the college’s site three days a week has been, in Spoor’s estimation, the most worthwhile aspect of his education.
“This class puts you in real-life situations where you must put to use everything you learned in the past year,” he said. “Penn College has given me tools that I will need in the real world – from the curriculum, to the instructors that are teaching us, to the equipment that we use to practice and refine our skills.”
Faculty go out of their way to bring employers to campus to watch students operate equipment or to explain what their companies have to offer graduates, he said.
“I am thankful for the people that really care about their students and their return on investment,” Spoor said. “I also would like to express my thanks to Allan Myers for investing in our education and the future students of Penn College.”
Allan Myers’ focus on a new generation of employees was obvious during comments by David J. Giumento, a construction executive and a 2003 construction management graduate of Penn College, who went off-script to invite all students in attendance to join him around the lectern.
“We wouldn’t be here without you,” he told them. “You are the backbone of our relationship with this college, and I can’t not share the stage with the people who make this possible. You, your faculty and your administrators are part of the shared values between the Myers family and the Penn College family: the pursuit of excellence every day, based off of hard work.”
The students also heard from two other Penn College alumni – Andrew T. Hoffman, senior operator trainer, and Andrew R. Lehatto, a superintendent – who have found career satisfaction since being hired by Allan Myers upon graduation. Hoffman (2006) and Lehatto (2008) each graduated with an associate degree in heavy construction equipment technology: operator; Lehatto also earned a two-year degree in heavy construction equipment technology: technician in 2007.
The pair delivered a candid rundown of nuggets unearthed from job sites: Always have a passion for what you’re doing, go beyond the salary to look at all aspects of employment (benefits and retirement included), take opportunities when they’re given, start slow and be patient, and always stay motivated to do your best.
Their well-received remarks encapsulated both the job-readiness inherent in their degrees and their advancement at Allan Myers, which recognizes the caliber of Penn College graduates through scholarship endowment and frequent recruitment at Career Fairs.
“We will be forever thankful for Allan Myers’ investment in our students,” Beishline said. “We are honored to display your company name proudly – the very first here at the operations site. This branding is more than a sign; it’s a constant reminder to all of us that the mid-Atlantic’s largest heavy civil contractor supports our program and your education. It’s a reminder that they want you to work for them, because you are an important part of what they do.”
Putting an exclamation point at the end of the Corporate Partner Recognition Day ceremony, Giumento told students that their education will provide a seamless transition into their chosen careers.
“You’re not going to get any better head start than Penn College,” he said. “You may never recognize it until you get out into the workforce, though, so just be prepared. Get out of your comfort zone – I’ve gotten comfortable being uncomfortable! – and get ready. If you work hard and prepare for the opportunity, it’ll come your way.”