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Penn College transforms electrical labs


About 100 electrical students per semester are benefiting from seven revamped labs at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Housed in the Electrical Technologies Center, one of the oldest buildings on campus, the labs feature the latest industry-standard equipment and provide individual instructional stations for students enrolled in one of several electrical programs.

“We’re really excited because we’re taking a deeper dive into some of the lab work we can do because of the space that we have,” said Stacey C. Hampton, assistant dean of industrial and computer technologies. “I think somebody coming in this year and moving through is going to see and do more than we were able to offer before.”

Pennsylvania College of Technology recently redesigned this electrical construction lab for students to have individual work stations. The college revamped seven labs in the Electrical Technologies Center to feature the latest industry-standard equipment. About 100 students enrolled in various electrical majors use the labs each semester.
Pennsylvania College of Technology recently redesigned this electrical construction lab for students to have individual work stations. The college revamped seven labs in the Electrical Technologies Center to feature the latest industry-standard equipment. About 100 students enrolled in various electrical majors use the labs each semester.

The newly outfitted labs focus on motor control, machine analysis, industrial electricity and electrical construction. Eight classrooms also were renovated with new technology and updated instructor stations to facilitate a more productive teaching and learning environment.

“This is what we wanted. This is what we needed,” said Art Counterman, instructor of electrical technology. “When the students came back and walked through the building, they were like, ‘Yeah, I want to go into that lab.’”

Tyler J. Snook, of Williamsport, is one of those students.

“Being here when it went from older to newer has been a good change,” said Snook, who is majoring in automation engineering technology: mechatronics. “It’s a lot nicer to have the newer equipment because that might be something we are more likely to work with.”

Kurt M. Maly, of Effort, who is also earning a bachelor’s degree in automation engineering technology: mechatronics, agreed.

“It’s more up to date,” he said. “It’s more user friendly, so hopping on it the first time and looking over it, you can easily tell what is what.”

In addition to automation engineering technology: mechatronics, building automation is the other baccalaureate program requiring use of the labs. Students seeking associate degrees in mechatronics technology, electrical technology and electrical construction spend hundreds of hours in the labs.

“We pride ourselves here on depth of knowledge,” Counterman said. “We want our students to know things that our competitors don’t. This renovation sets us up quite nicely for a minimum of five to 10 years.”

(A video about the updated labs is available on Penn College’s YouTube channel.)

Counterman and Kevin Yokitis, assistant professor of electrical technology, led the faculty contingent that spent nearly two years planning the upgrade with input from industry representatives. Faculty began installing the new equipment during the summer and incorporated student assistance once the fall semester began.

In the motor control lab alone, students from the practical experience and construction electrical classes mounted 61 of the 74 enclosures and helped with the wiring.

“They pretty much got to build those panels, which they never would get to do otherwise, so they received some good, good experience,” Hampton said.

Hands-on and troubleshooting experience are hallmarks of all the electrical majors.

“It’s absolutely critical,” Counterman said. “When the students leave here, they will have touched everything that they’re going to work on when they graduate.”

The motor control room is one of seven electrical labs recently revamped at Penn College. Housed in the ETC, the labs feature the latest industry-standard equipment and individual work stations for students.
The motor control room is one of seven electrical labs recently revamped at Penn College. Housed in the ETC, the labs feature the latest industry-standard equipment and individual work stations for students.

“All this new equipment and having these real-life scenarios that are put in front of you and then doing it, it helps a lot,” Maly said. “It’s one of the biggest things you can do in school to help you learn more.”

Such practical experience coupled with theoretical foundations is why graduates of the electrical programs reflect Penn College’s 98% graduate placement rate, according to Hampton.

“Their skill set is up to date. They are ready to go,” she said. “When they get a job, they’re ready to hit the ground running. They don’t have on-the-job training because they’ve been doing it for two years.”

Hampton is optimistic that more students will benefit from the electrical majors in the future.

“Absolutely, there is room for growth,” she said. “Faculty are working diligently in reaching out to high schools and career and technical centers. They’ve made it their goal to grow the electrical programs. They hear from industry.  They see employers coming for our students. They know what the need is. And now with the updated labs, they have all the pieces in place.”

For information on the college’s various electrical degrees and other majors offered by the School of Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4520.

Penn College is a national leader in applied technology education. Email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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