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Original Equipment Manufacturer Sponsoring College Baja Team

An industry-leading original equipment manufacturer is supporting the quest of Pennsylvania College of Technology manufacturing students to succeed at an international competition.

Acero Precision recently donated $2,000 to sponsor the college’s student chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and its entry in this spring’s Baja SAE. The Society of Automotive Engineers competition requires students to design and build an off-road vehicle to be tested in various categories.

“The sponsorship is huge. I’m ecstatic about it,” said John G. Upcraft, instructor of automated manufacturing and machining and the students’ adviser. “The students initiated the drive for sponsorship, and now we are seeing the benefit of that.”

Acero Precision representatives present a $2,000 donation in support of the Penn College student chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ entry in the upcoming Baja SAE competition. From left, are Joanne Fitzgerald, director of human capital for Acero Precision; Clinton R. Bettner, of Beaver Falls, Baja team captain; James A. Depasquale, of Simsbury, Connecticut, president of the SME Penn College chapter; John G. Upcraft, instructor of automated manufacturing and machining and the students’ adviser; and Michael Fitzgerald, president/CEO of Acero Precision.
Acero Precision representatives present a $2,000 donation in support of the Penn College student chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ entry in the upcoming Baja SAE competition. From left, are Joanne Fitzgerald, director of human capital for Acero Precision; Clinton R. Bettner, of Beaver Falls, Baja team captain; James A. Depasquale, of Simsbury, Connecticut, president of the SME Penn College chapter; John G. Upcraft, instructor of automated manufacturing and machining and the students’ adviser; and Michael Fitzgerald, president/CEO of Acero Precision.

Based in West Chester, Acero Precision specializes in precision engineering products used in a variety of industries, including medical, industrial, motorsports and diagnostic instrumentation. The company recruits from the college’s manufacturing majors for full-time positions and internships. Michael Fitzgerald, president/CEO and founder of Acero Precision, serves on the college’s manufacturing academic program advisory committee.

“At Acero, we really value the students from Penn College. They bring great experience and know-how to the manufacturing floor,” Fitzgerald said. “I have a passion for motorsports, and when I learned of the history and success of the Penn College Baja SAE racing team, it was a natural commitment.”

Approximately 16 members of the college’s SME club have contributed countless hours outside of class to work on the single-seat, dune buggy-like vehicle that will be entered in this May’s Baja SAE in Mechanicsville, Maryland. The four-day competition features technical inspections and several dynamic testing events for the all-terrain vehicles. The stated objective of the real-world engineering competition is to have students face “a challenging project that involves the design, planning and manufacturing tasks found when introducing a new product to the consumer industrial market.”

“I am grateful to have a company like Acero Precision support our organization,” said club president James A. Depasquale, a manufacturing engineering technology major from West Simsbury, Connecticut. “They see the value in our program and how students can gain from experiences beyond normal class work. Their support gives our club the ability to continue on its successful path at the competitions.”

Past success at Baja SAE spurred the students to seek sponsorship. Last year in Kansas, the Penn College contingent placed third out of nearly 100 teams in Baja SAE’s marquee event: the four-hour endurance race. It was the college’s third consecutive top 10 showing and highest finish in nine years of competing.

“Sponsorship became an important part of our goals this year as it provides the foundation for future growth of the team,” said team captain Clinton R. Bettner, a manufacturing engineering technology major from Beaver Falls. “The donation from Acero Precision is hopefully just the beginning of the support necessary for our students to use cutting-edge technology, materials and components for the design and construction of future vehicles. Such support will provide an uninhibited path for student success in the Baja SAE competition.”

According to Upcraft, the Acero Precision sponsorship funds are earmarked to enhance the college’s Baja SAE vehicle.

“We can now purchase components we always wanted to have,” he said. “We are upgrading the shocks, getting new rims and buying a two-way radio system. Now we’ll be able to communicate with our driver during the various events. We never had that capability before. We are very thankful for the generosity of Acero Precision.”

For information about manufacturing engineering technology and other majors offered by the college’s School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4520.

For more about Penn College, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.