Benjamin P. Coppola, of Danville, and Andrew M. Shane, of Boyertown – both about to graduate in heavy construction equipment technology: technician emphasis – were among the high-achieving students receiving funds through the mikeroweWORKS Foundation in partnership with the AED Foundation, an Associated Equipment Distributors affiliate.
AED is an Illinois-based international trade association representing more than 800 construction equipment distributors, manufacturers and industry-service firms in North America.Mike Rowe is the creator and host of the “Dirty Jobs” series on the Discovery Channel and, as a renowned advocate of technical education’s role in fueling the workforce, was interviewed for Penn College’s 2014 documentary, “Working Class: 100 Years of Hands-On Education.”
“When I think of Ben, it makes me grateful I chose this profession,” noted Mark E. Sones, instructor of diesel equipment technology. “He is the type of student that is always on point, absorbing your every word, questioning the function and physics of how things work; he is truly passionate about our industry and being the best at what he does. It has been an honor to be part of Ben’s technical education, and it will be exciting to see where his abilities take him through life and his career.”
Faculty were equally effusive about Shane’s attributes: “Andrew has a real passion and desire for the heavy equipment industry, and it is awesome he can be recognized for being an outstanding student,” said Chris S. Weaver, instructor of diesel equipment technology. “He will make a positive and lasting impact in his field of study, and I am honored to have him as a student.”
The scholarships are available to students enrolled in diesel equipment technology or related programs that are AED-accredited. Penn College is the only Pennsylvania institution on that list, attaining accreditation for its two-year majors in heavy construction equipment technology: technician emphasis and heavy construction equipment technology: Caterpillar equipment emphasis majors.
A total of 13 Penn College students have been awarded tool scholarships in the past seven years. To qualify, those students must have the highest GPAs in their program and submit brief essays that encompass their goals, choice of college and career, and perspective on why AED accreditation matters.
Both of this year’s Penn College honorees began their postsecondary education elsewhere – Coppola in the University of Pittsburgh’s engineering program and Shane at Penn State for agricultural engineering – before being drawn to the institution’s reputation and the solid career opportunities for the hands-on skills they are acquiring.
“Tools can be very pricey, and I find myself stressing over whether or not I will have the tools that I need to do the job to my best abilities,” said Shane, who has accepted a position with H.L. Wiker, a Lancaster-based excavation company, and who has long-term aspirations to return to his agricultural roots.
“I am planning on buying some beef cows when I get out of school, and this scholarship will allow me to buy tools and save some of my own money to put toward that. It would be a big help to me getting my career started.”
“The mikeroweWORKS/AED Foundation Tools Scholarship would help me because, in nearly all cases, a technician is responsible for his own tools, and one can never have enough tools,” said Coppola, who also earned a degree in diesel technology and is eyeing a career as a heavy equipment road technician for a dealership or an excavating/construction company.
“While I already possess basic hand tools, I still need A/C manifold gauges, a set of crows’-foot wrenches and a high-quality multimeter. Having the scholarship would provide the funds for me to buy these tools and more, thus preparing me for entry into the workforce.”