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Midshipmen visit Volvo

February 22, 2006|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY

andrews@herald-mail.com

As a tour guide showed how engines are manufactured and assembled at Volvo Powertrain North America, Lane Drummond and his U.S. Naval Academy engineering classmates listened and understood.

Drummond, 23, a senior from Hagerstown, said he learned many of the concepts and particulars in his mechanical engineering classes. But, he said, he hadn't seen them applied the way he did during Tuesday's tour.

Jim Cowart, who teaches engineering at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, said his students got a good sense of production, but also saw testing, something missing from last year's tour.

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"You've got to have both sides," he said.

In what has become an annual event, about 45 midshipmen took a thorough look at operations inside the plant north of Hagerstown.

They were given an overview beforehand and heard from four engineers afterward.

They ended their visit by riding, four at a time, in the finished products: trucks.

"It's really nice to get out of the classroom," said Cowart, who worked for Ford in the 1990s.

Almost all of the students on Tuesday's tour were concentrating on mechanical engineering at the Naval Academy. All but two were men.

Drummond, a 2000 North Hagerstown High School graduate, said he's been accepted to a Naval aviation school in Pensacola, Fla., and expects to start this summer.

He hasn't decided whether to pilot helicopters or jets, but he said he's known since he was a child that he wanted to fly.

Volvo Powertrain North America Communications Manager Patricia L. Friend told the midshipmen that the number of employees at the Washington County plant is up about 50 percent from last year and the work force is getting younger.

Heavy-duty and medium-duty truck engines and transmissions for Volvo and Mack are built at the factory, where a $150 million upgrade is under way.

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