Dream matches real-world need addressed by Penn College

PHOTO PROVIDED For a class assignment, 9-year-old Trevin Allen described his dream of working in plastics at SEKISUI SPI with his father, Lucas, a graduate of Pennsylvania College of Technology. From left are Shannon M. Munro, vice president for workforce development; Tom F. Gregory, associate vice president for instruction; and Trevin and Lucas Allen.

The dreams of many 9-year-olds transform them into adult superstars. What kid hasn’t dreamed of making the pivotal play to win the big game, belting out a tune to adoring fans or basking under the bright lights of Hollywood?

Trevin Allen.

The fourth-grader’s dream — described for a class assignment — matches reality’s need: a need addressed by Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Trevin’s aspirations connect applied technology education to rewarding careers in the skilled workforce, which is grappling with a shortage of qualified professionals. His words are timely and impactful beyond his classroom at Bloomsburg Memorial Elementary School.

“My dream is to work in the design lab of SEKISUI SPI like my father,” Trevin wrote. “I want to learn how to design Kydex thermoplastics.”

Headquartered in Bloomsburg, SEKISUI SPI is a worldwide leader in thermoplastics and a supporter of Penn College. Trevin’s father, Lucas Allen, is a technical service specialist for SEKISUI SPI, focusing on physical property testing.

Lucas graduated from Penn College in 2001 with a building construction technology degree. Following years as a contractor, he transitioned to the plastics field by accepting an inspector/packer position at SEKISUI SPI in 2012. Attending workshops offered by the college’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center helped Lucas advance to his current position. That dedication to continuous education has resonated with his son.

“My dream is to go to college and earn a degree to learn how to work on a computer. I will have to work hard and stay focused,” Trevin wrote.

“I was touched by what he wrote,” said Shannon Munro, vice president for workforce development at Penn College, who heard of Trevin’s dream when Ronn Cort, SEKISUI SPI’s president and COO, shared the story with her. “I thought it would be good to invite Trevin to campus to show him what he put to paper.”

Proudly sporting a name tag identifying himself as a “tomorrow maker,” Trevin spent a recent morning experiencing various areas of the college, known as a national leader in applied technology education.

He witnessed the possibilities of computer-aided design by interacting with architecture students working on their projects. A stop in the college’s new makerspace, The Dr. Welch Workshop: A Makerspace at Penn College, prompted him to manufacture a boomerang from a piece of wood with the aid of a bandsaw, drill press and sander.

“The boomerang project required critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and the importance of those skills in applied technology education cannot be overstated,” Munro said. “Employers are looking for those skills, as well as hands-on education, for their current and future workforce.”

Trevin’s succinct reaction to the college’s plastics labs was “cool,” whether he was touching the powder used for rotational molding, admiring a disk made from an injection molder or watching the thermoforming process.

Olivia Ferki, a plastics and polymer engineering technology major from Richboro, assisted Brennan Wodrig, and Christopher Gagliano, both PIRC project manager, with Trevin’s tour of the plastics facilities.

Lucas was humbled by the opportunity to return to his alma mater with a tour geared to his son’s interests.

“It was great to bring Trevin back here. He’s leaps and bounds above what I ever was at that age,” Lucas said. “It’s awesome that he has this desire to follow in my footsteps and one-up me, hopefully. That’s every parent’s dream.”