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College’s Construction, Masonry Majors Gain Key Credential

The marketability of students in two of Pennsylvania College of Technology’s construction majors, already a credible source for employers assembling a qualified workforce, has been bolstered by a professional endorsement from the Pennsylvania Builders Association.

The college’s building construction technology and building construction technology: masonry emphasis majors, both offered through the School of Construction & Design Technologies, recently received the endorsement of the PBA – the voice of the home-building industry in the Keystone State.

Pair of Penn College construction majors endorsed by the Pennsylvania Builders Association
Pair of Penn College construction majors endorsed by the Pennsylvania Builders Association

Endorsement of a school’s technology programs involves a thorough review and evaluation by people working in the construction industry using criteria established by the National Association of Home Builders. The program is also recognized by the Department of Education and endorsed by the Pennsylvania Association of Career and Technical Administrators.

“It is a true measure of quality to be able to achieve an educational endorsement from the Pennsylvania Builders Association,” said Marc E. Bridgens, dean of construction and design technologies. “Receiving the endorsement provides a benchmark for meeting industry standards. The endorsement provides validation that our curriculum, mission and educational goals are in concert with industry expectations.

“The goal of Penn College’s School of Construction & Design Technologies and the PBA is to provide a safe, fiscally responsible and sustainability minded workforce. We are excited with the relationship that is shared through this endorsement for our construction technology and masonry programs.”

The association works with schools around the state to certify their various home-building courses, demonstrating they meet NAHB educational guidelines. Students who complete PBA-certified programs can take tests that demonstrate their skills in such core competencies as carpentry; plumbing; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; and others. When these students receive certification, their names are added to the PBA website, providing reassurance to builders and potential employers that they are well-prepared to work with a residential construction company.

“I felt that this was extremely important for our school to have this endorsement to help our students market themselves after graduation,” said Levon A. Whitmyer, instructor of building construction technology, who coordinated the endorsement process at Penn College. “There was a tremendous amount of legwork that needed to be done. We had to crosswalk our current course work to the NAHB national standards for carpentry and masonry and prepare a lot of documentation about our facilities and faculty.”

There was also a site visit from Tom Turnbaugh, director of endorsement operations at PBA, and affiliated members of the local West Branch Builders Association. And there needed to be an assessment tool for issuance of a PBA certificate.

“As faculty, we decided we should only award a certificate for advanced skills. So we created an entrance/exit exam to monitor academic progress for both years of the associate-degree programs,” Whitmyer said. “Then, if the student can successfully pass that exit exam with an 85 percent or above, they will have to pass a hands-on exam to have the opportunity for a certificate from PBA.”

Reflecting on the time and effort that he and his colleagues put into the process, Whitmyer said   it is extremely important for Penn College students to get some recognition for a job well-done.

“I’m very passionate about the construction industry and our students,” he said. “I always try to go to great lengths to help our students succeed. Successful students lead to great recognition for our program.”

The PBA is a nonprofit professional trade organization representing nearly 6,000 member companies across the commonwealth. Members include builders, remodelers, material suppliers, subcontractors, consultants, lenders, utilities and others, and President Kevin Coutts said the endorsement program only adds to that trusted team of industry leaders and community partners providing homes, services, education and opportunity.

“PBA is committed to a viable, high-quality construction industry and the workforce to support it,” he said. “Through our Endorsed Trade Program, we can create a stronger future workforce and provide students with recognized certification and other benefits, like building a network of ties in the community through connections with PBA members, locals and local student chapters.”

For more about the School of Construction & Design Technologies, call 570-327-4518.

For more about the college, which is celebrating its Centennial throughout 2014, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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