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Automotive Alumnus Shares Voice of Experience in Return to Alma Mater

A retired automobile executive, whose illustrious and influential career began with an associate degree in automotive technology from Penn College’s immediate predecessor, this week returned to campus for the first time in nearly 40 years. Building on lessons learned while employed by Mercedes-Benz USA and BMW of North America (among others), Thomas C. Baloga shared “10 Tips for Career Success” with nearly 250 students, employees and alumni Tuesday afternoon in the Klump Academic Center Auditorium. The practical and informative presentation – a well-received gift to the college community, fashioned from Baloga’s decades of distinguished and high-profile service – culminated a two-day return to a campus vastly changed since his 1974 graduation from Williamsport Area Community College. The alumnus and his wife, Gayle, toured the Advanced Automotive Technology Center, College Avenue Labs (including instructional areas within the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies and the School of Transportation Technology), Le Jeune Chef Restaurant, the Parkes Automotive Technology Center, the School of Natural Resources Management diesel technology program (a special request, given Baloga’s experience at Mack Trucks) and The Victorian House. Baloga’s visit was also featured in Wednesday’s editions of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette.

– Photos by Larry D. Kauffman, digital publishing specialist/photographer,
and Tom Wilson, writer/editor-PCToday

Sitting down with Colin W. Williamson, dean of transportation technology, for a wide-ranging discussion of automotive issues.
Sitting down with Colin W. Williamson, dean of transportation technology, for a wide-ranging discussion of automotive issues.

Touring the Honda PACT lab in the Parkes Automotive Technologies Center are, from left, Debra M. Miller, the college's director of corporate relations; Gayle Baloga and her husband; and Colin W. Williamson, school dean.
Touring the Honda PACT lab in the Parkes Automotive Technologies Center are, from left, Debra M. Miller, the college’s director of corporate relations; Gayle Baloga and her husband; and Colin W. Williamson, school dean.

With his students about to leave for five weeks of dealership experience, instructor Charles F. Probst discusses the wide geographic area represented by Honda internships.
With his students about to leave for five weeks of dealership experience, instructor Charles F. Probst discusses the wide geographic area represented by Honda internships.

Automotive instructor Christopher A. Trapani, right, and the Balogas stand amid some of the 12 General Motors engines donated through The Pennsylvania State University.
Automotive instructor Christopher A. Trapani, right, and the Balogas stand amid some of the 12 General Motors engines donated through The Pennsylvania State University.

Nearly 40 years after his graduation, Baloga visits an engine performance lab in the ATC ... which was used by collision repair majors when he was enrolled.
Nearly 40 years after his graduation, Baloga visits an engine performance lab in the ATC … which was used by collision repair majors when he was enrolled.

Hot-button issues such as emission standards and flammability of refrigerants provide fuel for a lively discussion with Chris J. Holley, assistant professor of automotive technology.
Hot-button issues such as emission standards and flammability of refrigerants provide fuel for a lively discussion with Chris J. Holley, assistant professor of automotive technology.

Everything old is new again: a 1907 Duryea awaits restoration in College Avenue Labs (where Baloga was employed when the building housed the J.K. Rishel Furniture Co.)
Everything old is new again: a 1907 Duryea awaits restoration in College Avenue Labs (where Baloga was employed when the building housed the J.K. Rishel Furniture Co.)

Richard K. Hendricks, instructor of machine tool technology/automated manufacturing, leads a lab tour in CAL.
Richard K. Hendricks, instructor of machine tool technology/automated manufacturing, leads a lab tour in CAL.

Recipients of brass candlesticks made by students in the automated manufacturing lab, the Balogas watch the process firsthand (aided off-camera by Brian J. Pernot, a machine tool technology student from Dupont).
Recipients of brass candlesticks made by students in the automated manufacturing lab, the Balogas watch the process firsthand (aided off-camera by Brian J. Pernot, a machine tool technology student from Dupont).

The group stops by the lab of Katherine A. Walker, assistant professor of drafting and computer-aided design, who displayed a vehicle decidedly NOT a BMW: a pedal-powered four-wheeler created by students on a PVC frame.
The group stops by the lab of Katherine A. Walker, assistant professor of drafting and computer-aided design, who displayed a vehicle decidedly NOT a BMW: a pedal-powered four-wheeler created by students on a PVC frame.

No stranger to rapid prototyping, Baloga handles a three-dimensional working model of a pair of pliers.
No stranger to rapid prototyping, Baloga handles a three-dimensional working model of a pair of pliers.

Bill Mack, dean of the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies, leads guests on a tour of the College Avenue Labs metallurgy laboratory, where science and technology meet.
Bill Mack, dean of the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies, leads guests on a tour of the College Avenue Labs metallurgy laboratory, where science and technology meet.

A prominent alumnus engages students during an AATC visit that went well beyond its scheduled time slot.
A prominent alumnus engages students during an AATC visit that went well beyond its scheduled time slot.

Baloga talks with Ronald A. Garner, automotive professor, during a Monday tour of the Advanced Automotive Technology Center west of main campus.
Baloga talks with Ronald A. Garner, automotive professor, during a Monday tour of the Advanced Automotive Technology Center west of main campus.

The 1974 graduate is introduced by Valerie L. Fessler, director of alumni relations/annual giving.
The 1974 graduate is introduced by Valerie L. Fessler, director of alumni relations/annual giving.

An industry all-star shares real-world tips with the Penn College community.
An industry all-star shares real-world tips with the Penn College community.

Thomas C. Baloga, during his presentation in the Klump Academic Center Auditorium.
Thomas C. Baloga, during his presentation in the Klump Academic Center Auditorium.

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