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Heavy-Equipment Students Awarded National Tool Scholarships

Two Pennsylvania College of Technology students are among 51 of the nation’s highest-achieving construction equipment technology majors awarded tool scholarships from the mikeroweWORKS Foundation.

Receiving scholarships of $1,000 each are Matthew A. Hartzell, of Knox, and Jesse R. Rhodes, of McVeytown, both heavy construction equipment technology: technician emphasis majors. Hartzell is also working toward an associate degree in diesel technology.

The students were selected from Associated Equipment Distributors-accredited or -affiliated technical colleges for their high cumulative GPAs as of the end of the Fall 2013 semester. Penn College is the lone Pennsylvania institution on AED’s list, attaining accreditation for its two-year majors in heavy construction equipment technology: technician emphasis and heavy construction equipment technology: Caterpillar equipment emphasis majors.

Matthew A. Hartzell
Matthew A. Hartzell
Jesse R. Rhodes
Jesse R. Rhodes

“The tool scholarships provided by the mikeroweWORKS Foundation validate the hard work put forth by these students,” said Mary A. Sullivan, executive director of the Schneebeli Earth Science Center and assistant dean of transportation and natural resources technologies. “It’s wonderful this is acknowledged at a national level and will certainly serve as a reminder to other students that academic achievement reaps numerous rewards.”

The foundation was begun by the creator and host of the “Dirty Jobs” TV series, who is also a widely recognized commercial spokesman. The scholarships have benefited seven Penn College students since 2011, and are just one of the ways that Mike Rowe and his organization advocate for career and technical education.

Given the significant cost of acquiring a proper set of high-quality tools, the scholarships are a big help to students entering an equipment technician career. And given that they are paying their own way through college, Hartzell and Rhodes are as appreciative of the awards as they are of their Penn College education.

To qualify for the financial assistance, students must have the highest GPAs in their program and submit a one-page biography outlining their goals and stating why they chose a career in equipment technology, why they selected Penn College and why AED accreditation matters.

“I didn’t want to go to a trade school that shoves you through in a few months. I wanted to spend time getting my hands dirty and really understanding how things work,” Hartzell said. “Having AED attached to my major means industry has evaluated what type of education I’m getting and that there are high standards for the faculty and program. These are the same high standards that I hold myself to and will continue to strive for once I get my degrees.”

Rhodes – who, like Hartzell, came to Penn College from a background that includes farming – is similarly motivated to make the best of his education.

“From an early age, I’ve been working on engines and powertrains, taking things apart and putting them back together,” he said. “I’ve fixed tractors, trucks and manure spreaders, and pretty much any type of farm equipment. That’s just what you do on the farm – you’re the one responsible for repairs.

“My father encouraged me to go to college and learn some skills that would allow me to have a career. I love farming and will always work on the farm, but having a career in heavy equipment will allow me to farm as a hobby rather than relying on that to make a living.”

For more information about the School of Transportation & Natural Resources Technologies, call 570-327-4516.

For more about Penn College, celebrating its Centennial throughout 2014, email Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Student photos by Pamela A. Mix, secretary to the ESC executive director and assistant dean of transportation and natural resources technologies

Mike Rowe
Mike Rowe


Dick LaCerra,

Nice job, guys! Your hard work paid off! The right tools from the toolroom guys must have helped! Congratulations!


On behalf of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, congratulations to Matthew and Jesse. I hope our scholarship and the special offer from Snap-On to make those dollars go even further will help you both as you start on a great career. Well done!

Fred and Deb Rhodes,

We, as parents, are very proud of you and the many accomplishments you have achieved. Continue to do your best and success will follow! Thank you to the mikeroweWORKS Foundation for providing this scholarship and for supporting academic achievements.

Carol Lugg,

Congratulations, Matt and Jesse!

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