Penn Tech Offers Career Ready Degree Programs

“A CNC mini-mill that Mr.Funicelli built as part of his internship experience at Penn College of Technology.

Tyrone high school chemistry teacher Michael Funicelli wants his academic students to know that there are many excellent career options available to students after high school that do not require a traditional four-year college degree.

Funicelli recently participated in a week-long externship at Penn College of Technology in Williamsport that educated teachers about these options so they could share them with their students.

“The goal of the project was to inform public school teachers of the opportunities that exist not only at Penn College, but that will be available to students who choose the skilled technical workforce as a career path,” says Funicelli.

The goal of the project was to inform public school teachers of the opportunities that exist not only at Penn College, but that will be available to students who choose the skilled technical workforce as a career path”

— TAHS teacher Mike Funicelli

The skilled technical workforce consists of a wide range of careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) that do not require a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree.

“The experience was truly eye-opening,” said Funicelli, “I spent a week with other teachers learning about Penn College, touring their state-of-the-art facilities, designing and manufacturing goodies that we got to keep, and building my own CNC (computer numerically controlled) mill/router.”

According to Funicelli, careers in the skilled technical workforce can make great wages and are less likely to experience unemployment.

Some well-known technical jobs that are in high demand in today’s economy include electricians, machinists, welders, mechanics, and computer operators.

Another great example of a career path with high demand and high wages is in the advanced manufacturing industries. This field is expected to grow by 20% and have 3.5 million new job openings in the next five years due to growth in the industry and retirements. At the current pace of new graduates in these programs, an estimated 2 million jobs may go unfilled.

Advanced manufacturing jobs use technology to create existing and new products. Several career pathways in this area include specialists in automation, software, networking, and computation.

Most of these jobs are hands-on and require a certificate or a two-year associate’s degree after high school.

However, there are many misconceptions in society about going into careers like these or not attending a four-year college/university.

“Trade schools are sometimes viewed as seen as easy, but that is far from the truth,” said Funicelli. “Students are taught to be workforce ready with new tasks that mimic what they will do in the real world.”

I have always been a hands-on learner and if I were to do it all over again, I think choosing a program at Penn College would be the way I would go”

— TAHS Teacher Mike Funicelli

The National Science Foundation says that common perceptions of the skilled technical workforce need to change. Many of these programs are rigorous and students are taught many of the same skills that are also taught at a four-year college.

With all these open opportunities, a career in advanced manufacturing would be a great fit for many Tyrone students, according to Funicelli.

Penn College offers over 100 different programs focusing on careers in the skilled technical workforce. Most of their programs are two years with a focus on high-level education in a short period of time.

Penn College has been recognized as one of the best public colleges in 2022 by U.S. News and World Report. They rank high nationally in “Best Value Schools” and “Top Public Schools.”

“A four-year college or degree program is not for every student,” said Funicelli. “I have always been a hands-on learner and if I were to do it all over again, I think choosing a program at Penn College would be the way I would go.”

If any students are interested in this workforce or have any questions, feel free to contact Mr.Funicelli.