New major to be rolled out at Penn College in 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED Pennsylvania College of Technology student Nicholas E. Mills, of Tyrone, mixes concrete. He is enrolled in building construction technology: masonry emphasis. Penn College will offer a new associate degree in concrete science technology in the fall of 2018.

Industry needs coupled with technological innovations have prompted a local college to introduce a new major beginning next year.

Pennsylvania College of Technology will roll out an associate of applied science degree in concrete science technology for students next fall.

Franklin H. Reber, instructor of building construction technology, noted there are a plethora of opportunities for people working in concrete.

“There is a need for more tech savvy people in the industry,” he said.

Six years ago, some 3,400 jobs were available for concrete technicians in the U.S. that went unfilled.

Since that time, the number actually has tripled.

Reber said many workers are getting older and the need to replace failing infrastructure, including aging bridges and roads in the state, are creating a greater need for concrete.

Beyond that, concrete itself is evolving technologically.

“Concrete is one of the most widely used materials in the building industry,” said Marc E. Bridgens, dean of construction and design technologies. “And new technologies, such as ‘glow-in-the-dark’ applications, will only add to that popularity.”

Bridgens credited Reber with being “the brainchild” for introducing the new program to Penn College.

Reber said he hopes to have 20 to 25 students in his first class.

Officials noted the degree, to be available through the college’s School of Construction and Design Technologies, “will prepare students to succeed in the production and analytical evaluation of concrete, as well as the applications, aggregate selection and admixture techniques and products specific to the concrete industry.”

Job opportunities for students completing the major include: quality control specialist, highway inspector, research and development technician, decorative concrete specialist and structural engineer.

Graduates can transfer credits within the college to pursue a bachelor’s degree in residential construction technology and management or an applied management degree through distance learning.

Bridgens said the hope is to grow the program.

“I think one of the great things we are excited about is that it brings together science, technologies and a special skill set needed in the industry today,” he said. “As time goes on we see more of a need for infrastructure repair. I think this is one of the areas that will have a major impact on that, whether it’s roads or bridges or buildings.”