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Johnson College Completes Project through Ben Franklin Technology Partners of NEPA and Pleasant Mount Welding, Inc.

PMWI & Ben Franklin 2
From left: Bob Non, owner and CEO Pleasant Mount Welding, Inc.; Mike Burke, Mechanical Engineer PMWI; Gary Kielar, PWMI R&D Electrician; Joseph Dobosh, PWMI R&D Automation Specialist; Rick Fornes, Director of The Office of Innovation, Johnson College; Kenneth Okrepkie, Regional Manager, Ben Franklin Technology Partners Northeast PA; Katie Leonard, Executive Vice President, Johnson College.

Johnson College has recently completed an educational consulting project that was funded by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of NEPA and Pleasant Mount Welding. Each contributed $20,000 to create an aluminum grating swaging machine so Pleasant Mount Welding could begin manufacturing grates in-house as opposed to purchasing from a supplier. The grates contribute to the products the company provides to the wastewater and sewer industry. The overall goal of the project was to create a product that will create or sustain jobs in our area while also sharing knowledge between industry and the College. Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania contacted the College seeking an educational partner for Pleasant Mount Welding, Inc. Since the two organizations have had positive history with each other, a meeting was scheduled to map out the details in March of 2015.

The objective of the partnerships that fund the grant is to encourage educational problem solving which incorporates faculty, students, and the organization needing a product developed. The goal is for like-minds to come up with the solution to a problem which creates or sustains jobs in our area and in turn trains students to be technicians who can maintain the product. “It’s a collaborative process,” said Rick Fornes, Director of Innovation and Department Chair of Electronic Engineering Technology.

Fornes executed the project on behalf of the College. A graduate of Johnson College in 1994 and a seasoned instructor, he saw the opportunity to collaborate on this project as an opportunity to bring real world work into the classroom. Students of the Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, and Electrical Construction and Maintenance Technology programs had the opportunity to learn about the situations encountered when the project was being completed. Katie Leonard, Executive Vice President at Johnson College said this collaboration is “a great example of how the College can work with industry partners to create solutions through the Center for Professional Development.”

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania links early-stage technology firms and established manufacturers with funding, experts, technology, universities and other resources to help them prosper. In the process, they fuel economic growth for northeastern Pennsylvania. Ben Franklin Technology Partners is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority. The mission is to boost the northeastern Pennsylvania economy with new and retained jobs, new technology companies, and established manufacturers that are more competitive. Kenneth Okrepkie, Regional Manager of the Pocono Northeast Region for Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern PA, said his organization “has had a great relationship with Johnson College for many years.  Within Johnson College, technical expertise can be found to support manufacturing firms. The Pleasant Mount Welding Inc. (PMWI) project highlights the industry experience that is embedded within the college.” In addition, he was very satisfied with the results of the collaboration and describes the experience as professional, courteous and timely. “At the end of the project, I was excited to stand next to the production line as it moved final product down a conveyor ready to be shipped to PMWI customers,” he said.

Bob Non, President and CEO of Pleasant Mount Welding Inc., said “The manufacturing of grating is so unique with only a handful of manufacturers in the United States. We were having quality and delivery difficulties which led us to the idea of manufacturing our own grating to guarantee the delivery and quality expected by our customers.” He also said, “The new machinery has led to hiring new personnel as well as broadening our grating supply nationwide to increase employment even further.”