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College Presents Distinguished Alumnus, Mentorship Awards

Distinguished Alumnus Award winner Robert L. Pierce and Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour.Pennsylvania College of Technology has presented a Distinguished Alumnus Award to Robert L. Pierce and a Mentorship Award to Mark Porter.

The awards were presented duringSaturday’s Summer Commencement ceremony at the Community Arts Center, Williamsport.

The Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award is given annually in recognition of personal and professional accomplishments, contributions toward furthering the efforts of the college, and the high regard in which the recipient is held in the community.

The Mentorship Award recognizes alumni and/or businesses that have made significant or ongoing contributions to the education and development of Penn College students.

Pierce, of East Berlin, has broad experience in aviation in a career spanning more than four decades, working as an aircraft mechanic, department manager and senior executive. He is a recognized authority on aviation safety.

His aviation career began in 1966 in the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command, serving as a KC-135 aerial tanker crew chief. During the Vietnam War, he was stationed in Thailand and flew combat missions over Laos. He also participated in numerous aerial-refueling assignments, supporting B52s staged over the North Pole and ferrying fighter aircraft over the Pacific Ocean to Southeast Asia.

In 1970, Pierce enrolled in the aviation maintenance technician program at Williamsport Area Community College. After graduating in 1972, he was hired as a line mechanic for Clark Aviation, New Cumberland.

Within a year, he was promoted to lead mechanic for the company’s regional airline fleet; a year later, he was promoted to director of maintenance when the airline expanded and moved to Harrisburg International Airport.

Pierce remained with the airline until 1989, when he became director of maintenance for Agrotors Helicopters, Gettysburg, managing a fleet of 22 helicopters. In 1997, he was promoted to vice president and became the corporate secretary and a member of the firm’s board of directors. He managed the development of new markets and acquisitions, including Agrotors South LLC, as well as foreign operations, including Agrotors Chile Ltd. and Agrotors Peru.

He created and chaired Agrotors’ Safety Committee and implemented policies and procedures that qualified the company to receive the Helicopter Association International Platinum Safety Recognition award, along with Work Place Safety certification from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor.

Recognizing the shortage of aircraft technicians in the industry, Pierce worked with local high schools to develop an apprenticeship for students who have the aptitude and passion to become aircraft technicians but not the financial resources to pursue their dream. The program received approval from the state Department of Labor and Industry and was the first of its kind in the state and nation. He later developed a template for the program that is still in use today by the membership of HAI.

Pierce serves on Penn College’s Aviation Technology Advisory Committee and is a strong advocate for scholarships for aircraft technicians. He was instrumental in the development and production of the DVD “Careers in Helicopter Maintenance” created by HAI.

He has served on HAI’s Destroyed Aircraft Committee, chaired the organization’s Technical Committee and received its Meritorious Service Award in 2005.

He is a past officer of Eureka Lodge No. 302, a member of the Harrisburg Consistory Scottish Rite and Zembo Shrine. As a Mason, he supports and provides financial assistance to the Shriners Hospital for Children, which provides specialized pediatric medical care; the 32nd Degree Masonic Learning Centers for Children with Dyslexia; and the Zembo Circus.

He has been a participant in the Gettysburg Muscular Dystrophy Association Lockup event, helping to raise more than $1,200, and he participates in a number of fundraising events for those with cancer and spina bifida.

Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour and Mentorship Award winner Mark Porter.Porter is printing/prepress systems manager for Labels by Pulizzi Inc., Williamsport. He has worked for the company since 1981; previously, he was employed as a press operator/foreman for Hilsher Graphics, Williamsport.

In his current position, Porter manages daily operations of the offset department, including estimating, purchasing and scheduling. He also manages the prepress department, where his responsibilities include research, purchasing and implementation of digital prepress equipment needs, as well as maintaining computer networks and associated servers, workstations and software packages.

Porter earned an associate degree in graphic arts from Penn College in 1981. He serves on the college’s Graphic Communications Management/Technology Advisory Committee. He also serves on the Graphic Communication Advisory Committee for the Williamsport Area School District.

Porter has assisted and mentored Penn College graphic communications students by leading them on tours of Labels by Pulizzi, which has participated in the college’s internship program.

Porter has also facilitated the donation of numerous materials from the company to the college’s graphic communications program, and he offered technical support and guidance as the college began including flexography in its curriculum.

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