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‘Why Science Matters’ Documentary Premieres July 12 on WVIA-TV


Nerds rule! Science, experimentation and competition come together to help students develop the problem-solving skills needed for high-demand, high-tech careers in “Working Class: Competition Drives Innovation! Why Science Matters.”

Produced by Pennsylvania College of Technology and WVIA Public Media, the documentary, which premieres on WVIA-TV Thursday, July 12, at 8 p.m., highlights hands-on activities that connect students with science and other academic subjects that can prepare them for success in modern manufacturing careers.

David S. Richards, professor of physics, is one of the faculty members featured in “Working Class: Competition Drives Innovation! Why Science Matters,” a documentary produced by Penn College and WVIA Public Media that premieres on WVIA-TV on July 12.
David S. Richards, professor of physics, is one of the faculty members featured in “Working Class: Competition Drives Innovation! Why Science Matters,” a documentary produced by Penn College and WVIA Public Media that premieres on WVIA-TV on July 12.

The film features faculty and industry experts, as well as students taking part in combative robot and international engineering/racing competitions. The rewards for these types of competitive learning experiences continue after graduation, according to one faculty member.

“It makes them more marketable,” says Richard K. Hendricks Jr., automated manufacturing and machining instructor at Penn College. “Companies see that they’re learning … designing, building, manufacturing, re-engineering, welding. … It makes them much more marketable as an engineer. It ups their value exponentially.”

Hendricks and other faculty discuss the importance of combining hands-on experience with academic learning – especially subjects related to science – in preparing students for success in the workplace.

“I think the most important part of science, whether it’s physics or geology or chemistry or biology, is really understanding the thought process. … to work through a certain problem and get a result and know what that means,” says Kelly B. Butzler, associate professor of chemistry at Penn College.

“I tell my kids all the time, ‘Nerds rule the world,’” she adds. “If you want to be successful, be a nerd, be smart.”

“Working Class: Discovery Drives Innovation! Why Science Matters” features students and faculty from Penn College; Firetree Place in Williamsport: Warrior Run, Bloomsburg and Jersey Shore school districts; Rage in the Cage combative robot competition, and the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Baja international racing competition.

"Working Class"Penn College faculty appearing in the episode are Eric K. Albert, associate professor, automated manufacturing and machining; Adam C. Barilla, instructor, plastics and polymer technology; Butzler; Kirk M. Cantor, professor, plastics and polymer technology; Hendricks; Joshua J. Rice, instructor, plastics and polymer technology; David S. Richards, professor, physics; Tom Van Pernis, former instructor, plastics and polymer technology; and Timothy E. Weston, associate professor, plastics and polymer technology.

Also featured are Jennifer McNelly, former president of The Manufacturing Institute; Jon Doctorick, Carnegie Science Center mobile fab lab coordinator; Kurt Wertman, a teacher at Warrior Run Middle School; and Kirk Marshall, a technology education teacher at Bloomsburg Area High School and organizer of regional Rage in the Cage events.

“Working Class: Discovery Drives Innovation! Why Science Matters” is the fourth in a series of Telly Award-winning documentaries that connect career awareness and academic subjects.

In addition to public television broadcast, series videos appear on YouTube and the “Working Class” website.

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