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Mont Alto program to focus on technical skills

January 13, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

MONT ALTO, Pa. - David Goldenberg, chief executive officer at the Penn State Mont Alto campus, has hired a former missile engineer to run a new academic department that will teach students the skills to get jobs in some of the region's major businesses and industries.

The first classes for the new department - Industrial & Manufacturing Technologies - begin in September if the program is approved by the university. Goldenberg said he expects to have approval in February.

Goldenberg hired Don Wehr, 52, to set up and head the new department. Four faculty members and Wehr will make up the staff.

Goldenberg met with executives from some of the region's largest companies, including Ingersoll-Rand Co., Grove Worldwide, JLG Industries Inc., T. B. Woods Sons Co., Beck Manufacturing Inc., and Citicorp Credit Services Inc., and asked them what training Mont Alto students would need to work for their companies.

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The curriculum is designed to meet those needs. Courses cover information systems, multimedia and the World Wide Web, networks and communications, integrated business and manufacturing processes, the essentials of mechanics, technical writing, and the essentials of electronics. In addition, such academic basics as English composition, math and calculus, arts and the humanities and social studies will have to be mastered to earn an associate's degree.

"They'll get the basics plus manufacturing skills that will fit the companies they apply to," Wehr said.

Regular students, those coming out of high school, will work in the companies during the summer as interns.

"That will complement what they learn in class plus take them through the business process. They'll learn things like how to support a sales staff or do a bottom line cost analysis," he said.

Classes will also be taught at night so older students who work days can enroll. Some participating firms will offer tuition reimbursements for the course, Wehr said.

Thirty students will be enrolled the first year. In three years, 120 students should be taking the courses, Wehr said. By 2001 the goal is to expand to a four-year degree program, he said.

The Mont Alto campus already offers four-year degrees in nursing, occupational therapy and human development and family therapy.

Wehr was born in Sacramento, Calif. An electrical engineer, Wehr has taught at the University of Nevada and University of Maryland. In the 1980s he was vice president of Martin-Marietta Corp. at the defense company's facilities in Baltimore and Bethesda, Md. He was director of systems engineering while the company was building intercontinental ballistic missiles.

For the last six years Wehr has run his own consulting company out of his home on Hoovers Mill Road in Waynesboro.

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