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Penn College manufacturing students to study in Germany

Pennsylvania College of Technology received a grant from The National Science Foundation to combat the manufacturing skills gap to facilitate study abroad in Germany.

The grant will cover the cost of sending 10 Penn College manufacturing students and two faculty to Germany next summer to receive training at the Eckert International Vocational School and various companies on the cutting edge of computer numerical control and automation technology.

The 16-day trip will include hands-on experiences with tools used in the product development process; software operating milling, turning and multitasking machines; and robotic systems employed in the manufacturing industry.

“Germany is a world leader in CNC technology. The immersion program at Eckert and visits to renowned companies will offer unique insights that will enhance the education of today’s students and shape how we address the skills gap within our curriculum,” said David Cotner, dean of Penn College’s School of Industrial, Computing and Engineering Technologies.

According to a study conducted by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, unfilled manufacturing jobs through 2028 may total 2.4 million, threatening the health of the U.S. economy. The study identified negative perceptions of manufacturing, the introduction of advanced technologies and the retirement of baby boomers as the main reasons for the skills gap.

Earlier this year, the foundation awarded the college a $591,924 grant through its Advanced Technological Education program to increase the number of qualified workers in advanced manufacturing.

Initiatives supported by that grant include curriculum development — such as a one-year certificate in CNC — and high-level equipment acquisition in the areas of multi-axis machining, coordinate measuring machines and additive manufacturing.

The study program in Germany facilitated by the supplemental grant will be operated as part of a three-credit course. Students will be selected for the course based on their major, GPA and other factors to be determined.

Richard Hendricks Jr., instructor of automated manufacturing and machining, served as the college’s principal investigator for the supplemental grant. Bradley Webb, assistant dean of industrial, computing and engineering technologies, was the co-principal investigator.

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