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Penn College Co-Op Student Develops Product for Global Company


A little initiative has paid off in valuable real-world work experience for Pennsylvania College of Technology sophomore Ryan F. Walls.

Walls, of Covington, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in plastics and polymer engineering technology and recently finished an eight-month Penn College Cooperative Education experience in the research and development department of Ethicon Endo-Surgery, a Cincinnati-based Johnson & Johnson company. The company develops and markets advanced surgical instruments and medical devices.

Under the mentorship of Keith L. Jeffcoat a 2001 graduate of Penn College’s plastics and polymer engineering technology major and now a senior development engineer in Ethicon Endo-Surgery’s research and development department Walls acted as development engineer for the modification of two existing components from one of the company’s product lines, leading to two new components and two new product lines, increasing revenue for Ethicon Endo-Surgery.

The products surgical procedure sets designed to resection prolapsed tissue in the rectum and to resection cancerous lesions, polyps and hemorrhages have been launched in Europe. Because the products would have competed with products the company already markets in the United States, they were released only overseas.

In developing the new products, Walls conducted meetings not only with various departments within Ethicon Endo-Surgery, but also conducted meetings and presentations with outside suppliers to facilitate the project. Walls worked for Ethicon Endo-Surgery from January to August, and returned to classes at Penn College for the Fall 2006 semester.

“It gave me a lot of real-life experience that you can’t get in college, and adapting and adjusting to corporate America is something I feel is valuable to have under my belt,” Walls said. “Working with some of the best engineers in the country and holding ourselves to a higher standard on a daily basis helped me become more proactive and set higher standards for myself upon my return to Penn College.”

Jeffcoat visited plastics classes on Penn College’s campus in October 2005 with the intent to give back to the school by sharing his industry experiences with current plastics students.

He also is a member of Ethicon Endo-Surgery’s New College Hire program, which recruits about 20 to 25 students per semester for cooperative-education experience from universities with well-known engineering programs.

Jeffcoat did not come to Penn College with the intent to recruit students, but said that Walls took the initiative to talk to him about co-op opportunities at Ethicon Endo-Surgery. When an opportunity came up for the company to hire additional co-op participants, Jeffcoat contacted Walls. For more information about Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon Endo-Surgery, visit online.

For information about the Ethicon Endo-Surgery Co-Op Program, visit on the Web.

For more information about the academic programs offered by the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies at Penn College, call (570) 327-4520, or sende-mail.

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