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Penn College hosts its first-ever CTE diesel competition

Twenty-eight students from a variety of Career and Technical Education schools participated in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s inaugural diesel competition at the institution’s Schneebeli Earth Science Center.

The well-planned Dec. 10-11 event – which shone a spotlight on hands-on learning, as well as illuminating the corporate partners who encourage students and hire graduates – resulted in scholarships to three top performers should they enroll in the college’s heavy equipment technology (Caterpillar, operator or technician emphasis), diesel technology or electric power generation: diesel emphasis majors.

Northern Tier Career Center, which won first place overall and received a $5,000 certificate for training aids from Cleveland Brothers Equipment Co. Inc., also claimed the top-finishing student: Adam Leonard, who won a $10,000 Penn College scholarship. Second place ($7,500) went to Aidan Nunan, from Berks Career & Technology Center (diesel); Bryce Hahn, from North Montco Technical Career Center, was third ($5,000).

Competitors from Northern Tier Career Center – which won first place overall in the competition – accept a traveling trophy and certificate from Cleveland Brothers Equipment Co. Inc. representative Doug Wetzel (left).
Competitors from Northern Tier Career Center – which won first place overall in the competition – accept a traveling trophy and certificate from Cleveland Brothers Equipment Co. Inc. representative Doug Wetzel (left).

“The Northern Tier Career Center is extremely appreciative of Penn College’s initiative in hosting this competition. We are extremely proud of our students and Mr. Richard Decatur, NTCC diesel technology instructor, for their efforts and dedication to their industry,” said Gary Martell, director of the Towanda-based center. “Also, we are extremely grateful for the monetary recognition received from Cleveland Brothers to enhance our program.”

“I can’t say enough about the effort of my students,” Decatur added. “They, along with their parents, continue to show their willingness to support our program. The parents exhibit their encouragement of their children’s education by going above and beyond the normal school day.

“I would like to thank Penn College and all other supporting businesses and partnerships for their inspiration to the students in all schools. With their help and support, students are able to carry on with their career goals.”

President Davie Jane Gilmour and Justin W. Beishline, assistant dean of diesel technology and natural resources, welcomed guests to dinner, served Friday in the Thompson Professional Development Center on main campus. Michael J. Sormilic, of Southbury, Connecticut, added his perspective as a student in electric power generation: diesel emphasis and building automation technology, and sponsors shared the worth that Penn College alumni provide to the industry.

“Thanks to our valued corporate partners, successful alumni and skilled faculty, you have a team of industry experts at your disposal while you are here,” the president told visitors. “In between competition, I encourage you to explore, ask questions and envision your future. You are building your legacy toward rewarding and sustainable careers.”

A participant employs hands-on skill at the differential adjustment station.
A participant employs hands-on skill at the differential adjustment station.

On Saturday at the ESC south of Williamsport, students cycled through 10 industry-sponsored stations and were judged on their aptitude in air brakes, data analysis, differential adjustment, electrical circuits, engine valve adjustment, precision measuring, preventive maintenance inspection, starting and charging, tire wear inspection, and wheel end adjustment.

“Throughout this event, we hope you will be encouraged by how valuable your education is and discover how Penn College can open countless doors to viable career choices throughout the diesel industry,” Beishline told competitors, who represented the three highest scorers at each school that proctored a written qualifying test.

Other participants were Adams County Technical Institute, Berks Career & Technology Center (heavy equipment), Bucks County Technical High School, Butler County Area Vocational-Technical School, Cumberland Perry Area Career & Technical Center, Seneca Highlands Career and Technical Center, SUN Area Technical Institute, and Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center.

Sormilic was among the student helpers during the competition, joined by Matthew J. Biehl, Silverdale, heavy construction equipment technology: operator emphasis; James S. Cameron, West Islip, New York, diesel technology; Charles W. Gaumer Jr., Lebanon, Olivia L. Miller, Muncy, and Justin D. Sandner, Wayne, New Jersey, all electric power generation technology: diesel emphasis; Ryan J. Santora, Norwalk, Connecticut, diesel technology; and Jake M. Spinosa, Wood-Ridge, New Jersey, heavy construction equipment technology: technician emphasis.

Assisting from the college’s Diesel Performance Club were Mike J. Lawson Jr., Millville, New Jersey, diesel technology; and Marcayla M. Lutzkanin, Port Carbon, diesel technology and applied management.

The depth of corporate collaboration, reflective of the college’s role in providing exemplary diesel technicians for the industry, is evident in the generous outpouring of support in various categories:

Competition sponsors (in addition to Cleveland Brothers)
Cumberland Truck Equipment Co. Inc., Equipment Corporation of America, FedEx Freight, Foley Inc., H.O. Penn Machinery Co. Inc. and Isuzu Commercial Truck of America.

Skills sponsors
Bergey’s Truck Center, Groff Tractor & Equipment Inc., Kenworth of Pennsylvania, Sherwood Freightliner, Sherwood Isuzu and TruckSmart Isuzu.

Station sponsors
The AED Foundation, Daimler Trucks North America, Earthborne Trucks and Equipment, Komatsu, Penn Power Group, Stephenson Equipment, Watsontown Trucking Co., and Weis Markets Inc.

For more about diesel technology and related majors in Penn College’s School of Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4520.

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 Jennifer A. Cline, writer/magazine editor
(unless otherwise noted)


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