Retraining for a new career Jim Schellhammer

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When the industrial maintenance facility he worked at closed in 2011, Jim Schellhammer returned to college for the first time in 30 years to help him begin a new career.

Jim was interested in becoming an expert on Programmable Logic Controllers, or PLCs, that allow the automation of everything from factory machines to amusement park rides.

At Westmoreland County Community College, Jim found the program he was looking for and enrolled in the Manufacturing Technology associate degree program, specializing in the manufacturing process technology option.

“Anything you do in manufacturing, you get into PLCs and mechatronics,” said Jim. “You have to be handy in five different fields just to keep up with everyone.”

Jim is impressed with the amount of hands-on experience he is receiving and how much cutting-edge technology is available at WCCC.

“I am ahead of the curve compared to other applicants for the same positions. They may have the theory, but my ability to actually do it sets me apart.”

Excellent faculty and student services are a major reason Jim has stuck with the program at WCCC. He credits his instructors for giving him real-world experience and his tutors for helping him succeed as a nontraditional student.

Jim has accepted a job offer at a local metal tube mill using the new skills he has learned at WCCC.

“I had to take four written and three practical tests just to get the position,” Jim said, “I was able to do this and get the job because of WCCC.”

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