Penn College manufacturing students witness German auto industry firsthand | Education

Williamsport, Pa. — Fun and education merged when a group of Pennsylvania College of Technology students recently took a 16-day trip to Germany.

During the trip, the group had the opportunity to see precision metalworking tools, advanced robots, hydroelectric power systems, and Porsche car manufacturing.

“Students were able to witness in-house examples of what makes Germany one of the world’s leaders in advanced manufacturing and automation,” Richard Hendricks said about the trip, coordinated with Eckert Schools International. “We were the first US school to partner with Eckert and secure them as a host.”

Eckert, based in Regenstauf, is known worldwide for providing professional education and expertise regarding the highest “Made in Germany” quality standards.

The seven students were led by instructors Richard K. Hendricks, Jr. and Howard W. Troup. They experienced classroom, lab, and hands-on work with German machining methods. In Germany, the group visited Haimer Inc., high-precision metal cutting products; Kuka Robotics; Voith Hydro; and Porsche.

“One of the goals was for our students to see the effectiveness of the German educational system and compare it to our career and technical education model,” Hendricks said.

Dakota C. Harrison of Lewisberry noted, “The biggest difference between programs in the United States and Germany is the depth of employer engagement.” The German model utilizes apprenticeships, blurring the lines between employment and education.

The Penn College group included recent graduates Harrison and Caleb J. Harvey of Pittsgrove, New Jersey with current students Trevor L. Keaton of Lansdale; Jacob T. Martin of Williamsport; Shelby N. Miller of Schuylkill Haven; Jay Patel of Canton, Michigan; and Baldomero A. Silva of Kennesaw, Georgia.

To commemorate their experience, Martin and Harrison proposed a special project: the Penn College group and their German hosts created an aluminum plate the Penn College Wildcat and Eckert’s logo, gear teeth, the current year, the names of the school, and the words “Knowledge is power.”

“Jacob brought up how it would be cool to leave with something, and what started as a simple idea quickly evolved. We wanted a tangible representation of the skills within our group and the Eckert faculty. The plaque would represent both schools’ pride in hands-on manufacturing,” Harrison explained.

The duo primarily focused on the logos while Peter Zollner, manager of Eckert’s Metal Trades Department, collaborated with the other students on the remaining faces of the design.

“It was quite an amazing experience. I could not have asked for a better way to finish my time at Penn College,” Harrison added.

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