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Penn College Students Leave Their Mark at Builders’ Show


Pennsylvania College of Technology students again have carried the institution’s reputation far beyond campus borders, earning acclaim in a recent national competition and returning home with a sense of personal accomplishment at a job well-done among high-caliber challengers.

A team of two-year students placed second among 14 teams during the competition at last month’s National Association of Home Builders’ international convention in Orlando, Fla. Teams from Brigham Young University finished first and third.

A group of Penn College students enrolled in four-year majors finished 14th out of 37 colleges and universities. The top three finishers in the baccalaureate division were Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Arizona State University and Texas A&M.

The teams are members of the Penn College Construction Association, a student chapter of NAHB, and are sponsored by the West Branch Susquehanna Builders Association.

“For a small school such as ours to be up against some of the largest schools in the nation and not only be competitive but be very successful is something I know I’m extremely proud of,” said Derek J. Rinaldo, of Minersville, a civil engineering technology major and member of the four-year squad.

Penn College students, schooled in the institution’s unique combination of classroom instruction and practical experience, have done well at the competition in recent years. Two-year teams from the college placed first in 2004 and 2005, and bachelor-degree students have finished respectfully amid the tough company of much-larger competitors.

Members of this year’s associate-degree team were Hilary J. Allegretto, Wilcox, residential construction management-architectural technology; Matthew Divok, Williamsport, building construction technology; Curtis J. Graf, South Williamsport, heavy equipment technology-operator; Timothy J. Holton, Landenberg, building construction technology; and Nicholas S. Martynuska, RR 6 Altoona, building construction technology.

The Residential Construction Competition was held at the Orange County Convention Center, with teams working under real-life conditions: Each two-year group represented a company chosen by corporate sponsor Centex Homes to develop a complete set of working drawings, a detailed materials estimate and a complete construction schedule for a residential home. Once teams had begun finalizing their design, competition organizers circulated a change order that required revision to the design to allow for a family room over the garage.

“We, as a team, started work on this project in September and worked steady,” Graf noted. “Yet, with about two weeks before the send-in date, we regularly stayed up past 5 a.m. to get things done. All of this effort was well worth it, as we placed second against big schools like Purdue, Brigham Young, Utah Valley and Ohio State.”

Graf also said Penn College students are excitedly sought after by the numerous construction firms large and small alike represented at the job fair held in conjunction with the builders show.

The four-year teams, representing local operating divisions of a large national home-building company, were challenged to present their projects to upper-level management for funding and acquisition consideration.

Over the course of the competition, teams orally presented their solutions and defended their conclusions during timed question-and-answer sessions with a panel of industry judges.

Members of the four-year team were Christopher C. Anderson, Glen Gardner, N.J., residential construction management-architectural technology; Benjamin W. Copenhaver, Reinholds, residential construction management-building construction technology; Trevor T. Krize, Birdsboro, residential construction management-building construction technology; Rinaldo; and Michael A. Twining, Elmira, N.Y., residential construction technology and management.

Copenhaver and Krize were members of the two-year Penn College team that took first place at the 2005 show.

“I feel that going to the builders’ show and working on a project of such a great magnitude was an awesome learning experience,” Krize said. “I was proud to be on the four-year team and place where we did among the top universities from across the country.”

The students were accompanied by Bernard A. Kahn, PCCA adviser; Garrett L. Graff, co-adviser; and Richard L. Druckenmiller, former adviser. All are instructors of building construction technology in Penn College’s School of Construction and Design Technologies.

“As the founder and adviser of the PCCA for the past 10 years, watching these students prepare for the competitions representing the college so professionally and obtaining careers in the residential construction industry has been one of my most rewarding experiences as an instructor at Penn College,” Druckenmiller said.

This year’s record-setting International Builders’ Show was the largest annual light-construction convention in the world, covering more than 1.5 million square feet of exhibit space with approximately 1,600 manufacturers introducing their building and construction products and services to more than 100,000 industry professionals. The 2007 show will be held next February in Orlando.

For more information about construction-related majors at Penn College, call (570) 327-4518, send e-mail or visit online.

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