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Highway Equipment, Volvo continue student-centered aid

The corporate generosity that provides Pennsylvania College of Technology students with up-to-date tools befitting a campuswide pool of “tomorrow makers” lives on in an equipment loan from Volvo Construction Equipment, facilitated by Highway Equipment & Supply Co.

A Volvo EC220 excavator has been made available through the end of the Fall 2019 semester, and already has seen considerable use by students in the summer operations classes.

Gathered around a Volvo EC220 excavator on loan for Pennsylvania College of Technology students’ use are (from left) Ryan W. Peck, diesel equipment technology instructor; Elizabeth A. Biddle, director of corporate relations at the college; Justin W. Beishline, assistant dean of transportation and natural resources technologies; Tyler Wright, remarketing sales manager for Volvo Construction Equipment; Ryan Flood, vice president, Highway Equipment & Supply Co.; and Jonathan G. Vasconcelos, of Windham, N.H., enrolled in heavy construction equipment technology: technician emphasis. (Photo by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor)
Gathered around a Volvo EC220 excavator on loan for Pennsylvania College of Technology students’ use are (from left) Ryan W. Peck, diesel equipment technology instructor; Elizabeth A. Biddle, director of corporate relations at the college; Justin W. Beishline, assistant dean of transportation and natural resources technologies; Tyler Wright, remarketing sales manager for Volvo Construction Equipment; Ryan Flood, vice president, Highway Equipment & Supply Co.; and Jonathan G. Vasconcelos, of Windham, N.H., enrolled in heavy construction equipment technology: technician emphasis. (Photo by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor)

The machinery is stationed at the college’s heavy equipment operations site in Brady Township, and instructors Ryan W. Peck and Chris S. Weaver – both Penn College alumni – said 80 percent of the three-dozen students enrolled there will have “seat time” opportunity in the coming months.

“This is an ongoing relationship that we so greatly appreciate,” said Elizabeth A. Biddle, the college’s director of corporate relations. “It gives our students experience and familiarity with the Volvo brand while helping to increase their operations skills. Corporate partnerships are key to our applied technology education; the support of Volvo CE and Highway Equipment & Supply Co. is invaluable to helping us produce a workforce that meets employers’ needs.”

The excavator is emblematic of the well-established and mutually beneficial link between the college and Highway Equipment, a relationship that has resulted in the career-building recruitment of heavy construction equipment interns and graduates.

“The Penn College 240-hour (heavy construction equipment technician) internship is invaluable,” said Jennifer Nauss, Highway Equipment’s human resources, marketing and communications manager. “While it’s a race against our competitors to get Penn College interns, once we have them, they get to experience firsthand that their career is not just about a paycheck; they experience the difference a company culture makes. We get to see the students’ level of commitment, work ethic and how much they applied themselves in school.”

Between the students’ strong Penn College education and their internship experience, she explained, Highway Equipment deems them “career-ready.”

“As our workforce ages and no longer wants to turn wrenches, we need a pipeline of career-ready technicians in place to combine what they learned at Penn College with the knowledge they’ll gain from working beside our seasoned technicians,” she added.

Nauss regularly attends campus Career Fairs, and since she began a targeted recruitment program in 2016, has taken on eight interns from Penn College. Seven alumni hired since 2016 are among current employees – added to the graduates already in place before that year – representing 7 percent of the company’s total workforce and 19 percent of its technicians.

“We also hire Penn College students as part-time technician assistants, primarily at our Lock Haven and Drums branches,” she said. “These students work for us around eight to 12 hours a week when they aren’t in class and then more during the summer and on school breaks. So far, all of our technician assistants have converted to full-time staff after graduation.”

Weaver worked closely with Nauss during the Spring 2019 semester to set up an interactive Lab Day for students in conjunction with the newly arrived Volvo excavator, and the partnership extends to Pennsylvania’s SkillsUSA program. Highway Equipment & Supply Co. provides personnel and equipment for the diesel technology and heavy equipment operator categories at the state level; Volvo CE hosted this year’s operator competition at its Shippensburg facility; and Weaver, Peck and instructor John D. Motto facilitate the diesel contest.

The Gold Rush Excavator – a uniquely customized 20-ton Volvo CE EC200E model – stopped on Penn College’s main campus Sept. 5 as part of a 10th anniversary tour for Discovery's "Gold Rush" television series.
The Gold Rush Excavator – a uniquely customized 20-ton Volvo CE EC200E model – stopped on Penn College’s main campus Sept. 5 as part of a 10th anniversary tour for Discovery’s “Gold Rush” television series.

And on Sept. 5, the company brought to the college’s main campus the “Volvo Construction Equipment/Discovery Gold Rush Excavator Tour.”

Between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. that day, in a parking lot near the college’s Field House, the college community marked the 10th anniversary of Discovery’s “Gold Rush” television series by viewing and photographing the new Volvo Construction Equipment EC200E 20-ton excavator – complete with embroidered signatures from co-stars Tony Beets, Parker Schnabel and Rick Ness.

Highway Equipment also figured prominently in a Volvo CE video filmed in May 2017 at the training site and posted to YouTube. In addition to student and faculty interviews, the segment also featured company Vice President Ryan Flood, a member of the college’s Heavy Construction Equipment Technician Emphasis Advisory Committee.

“Being on the Advisory Committee has allowed us to see the development of the programs offered to the students and has enabled businesses to offer real-life insight into what’s happening in the industry,” Flood said. “We’ve always been impressed by the effort the college puts into putting together such well-rounded programs that produce first-rate technicians.”

A Volvo CE dealership, the family-owned Highway Equipment & Supply sells more than 15 heavy equipment brands. It offers equipment sales, parts, service and rentals from locations in Harrisburg, Drums, Brownstown and Lock Haven.

The college’s School of Transportation & Natural Resources Technologies offers associate degrees in diesel technology, on-site power generation and three emphases of heavy construction equipment technology, as well as a certificate in diesel technician. For more information, call 570-327-4516.

For more about the college, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

– Photos by Larry D. Kauffman, digital publishing specialist/photographer;
and Kimberlee R. Rusczyk, manager of social media/online marketing

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