When it was time to decide on a career path, I wanted a program that could help me pursue my interests in the construction field as well as engineering. I thoroughly enjoyed my education in the Structural Design and Construction Engineering Technology (SDCET) program. I believe it provided me with the foundation to develop the skills necessary to be a valued team member throughout the construction process. It has positioned me to be able to be part of guiding our field and construction management teams while also having the correct foundation to help our customers, owners, architects, and engineers realize their visions. My education at Penn State Harrisburg in the SDCET program has been an extremely important part of my professional development. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in a career in the broad and robust design and construction industry.
Patrick Michael Irwin '95,Chief Operating Officer/Executive Vice President, Leonard S. Fiore, Inc.
The SDCET program is a rare opportunity for the student to obtain knowledge and perspectives from both the design side and the construction side of the industry. This program appeals to a student who may not be sure whether they would like to pursue a career in engineering or construction management. My perspective on this program comes from a different angle than most of the other advisory committee members. Having graduated from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and then pursuing a career in the construction management field, I had the opportunity to meet and work with graduates of the program.
I obtained my engineering master’s degree from Penn State Harrisburg, where I crossed paths with many of the same professors and administrators in the SDCET program. In addition, through my involvement in the advisory committee, I have met with alumni, advisors, professors, and administrators of the program. These relationships have reinforced the fact that this is a great program for individuals who would like to pursue a career in the construction industry, either as a structural engineer or a construction manager.
Robert J DeFiore '84,Managing Director, Construction Services, SDCET Advisory Committee Member,Hershey Entertainment & Resorts
Being a Penn State alumna, specifically from the SDCET program at the Harrisburg campus, put me ahead in my career. The program is well known in the engineering and construction industry and allowed me to make connections all over the east coast. The highlight of my time at Penn State Harrisburg was my hands-on lab experience. The tools and technology used in the lab were the same as you would have out in the field or research lab.
What I appreciated the most was the unmatched dedication from faculty members. Their goal isn’t only to give out grades and assign homework, but rather taking the time to ensure each student has the capabilities to take classroom learning and transforming it to “real world experience.” Being Penn State alumni runs in my family, and I can only hope this holds true for my future generations.
Courtney Day '22,Construction Project Manager,Trane Technologies
As an adult student graduating from the survey technology program at the Wilkes-Barre campus in 1998, I was looking for my next step. My oldest sister was a graduate of the Structural Design and Construction Engineering Technology (SDCET) program, and she recommended the program as it gave her multiple job opportunities after graduation. In my research, I found the SDCET program had a 100% job placement rate at time of my graduation. I also liked that the program gave me the Construction or Design option. I was accepted into the program and studied in the Construction option, graduating in 2000. I worked for a construction management firm in Philadelphia between my junior and senior years. By March of my senior year, I accepted a job offer with the same firm and worked there until 2005. I left in 2005 to accept a position with a construction management/general contracting firm in my hometown and have been there since. The SDCET program has prepared me well.
Thomas Medura '00,Project Manager,Sordoni Construction Services, Inc.
I chose the Structural Design and Construction Engineering Technology program for a few reasons. In high school, I wanted to be an engineer in hopes of designing and working on bridges. I was recommended to look into the SDCET program, which was geared toward my interests. I chose Penn State Harrisburg because of its small class sizes that would allow more engagement with professors. Another reason I chose Penn State Harrisburg was the SDCET can be completed four years. Currently, I work as a transportation construction inspector for Urban Engineers. My degree has helped me in many ways. My degree has helped me navigate plans, standards, and contracts with ease. My degree has also helped me with examining designer calculations and contractor submittals. From the calculations and submittals, invoices are sent by a designer for compensation for hours spent working on them. Having the background in performing many of the same calculations has assisted me in determining if the hours submitted on a task are appropriate. My degree has also helped me understand the finer details of concrete and asphalt testing and placement. The SDCET program did a great job preparing me for my profession. The biggest strengths of the program were the professors, required courses, and hands-on experiences. The professors were very willing to engage with students during class and if the students had questions. In my experience working so far, all my required courses have had some relation to my job. The hands-on experience from the labs, AutoCAD, and Structural Analysis Software have been very useful.
Brent M Gauntlett '21,Transportation Construction Inspector,Urban Engineers
Commuting from a rural community in central Pennsylvania, I learned about structural engineering, business administration, and other cultures as I met students and faculty from around the world at Penn State Harrisburg. The knowledgeable and diverse faculty are dedicated to teaching fundamental techniques and their applications in the field.
One of my favorite opportunities was joining, and later leading, the Steel Bridge Team. Each academic year, the undergraduate team designs and fabricates a real steel bridge for the American Institute of Steel Construction Student Steel Bridge Competition. This allowed me to participate in a national competition, work with colleagues, and gain real-world experience before I started my career.
My undergraduate Capital College Honors Program thesis allowed me to present my investigation of the analyses and plans for future transportation networks. I discussed plans for magnetic levitation and hyperloop transportation with Departments of Transportation around the country.
The faculty at Penn State Harrisburg successfully prepared me to become a licensed Engineer in Training in March 2022. As I gain experience with interstates as a structural engineer at a global engineering firm, I am pursuing my master’s degree in Civil Engineering and plan to become a licensed professional engineer in 2026. I am ready to see how I can make a positive difference in my engineering career.
Hannah E. Hess '22,Structural Engineer,CDM Smith
I chose Penn State Harrisburg specifically for the Structural Design and Construction Engineering Technology (SDCET) program. I was referred by a friend that had graduated from the program a few years before me, and his experience during, and even after, his time in the SDCET program encouraged me to pursue the major. The hands-on experience gained in this program is very relevant to life after graduation, and the variety of jobs this major can relate to following graduation allows you to explore all aspects of the construction industry. I was offered a job prior to graduating as a structural engineer in training (E.I.T.) thanks to the Penn State name and the education the SDCET program offered.
John E. Porter '21,Structural Designer (E.I.T.),Lobar Design and Engineering
I arrived at the Harrisburg campus after starting a 2+2 plan at another campus. After some research, I landed on my path to Harrisburg. The largest strength of the engineering programs at the Harrisburg campus are derived from the industry partnerships and lab/hands on capabilities. The lab components and current industry partners help reinforce real world and current applications of technologies and changes throughout the industry. My career has benefited from the large network that Penn State provides as well as the quality recognition that the program maintains. Employers recognize the quality of applicants immediately.
Patrick Meadows '20
Growing up, I was interested in math, science, and engineering, but didn't like the idea of being in an office all day crunching numbers. Choosing to get a degree from Penn State Harrisburg in Structural Design and Construction Engineering Technology (SDCET) was the perfect fit to prepare me for a career in construction management. After graduating in 1994, I became a Professional Engineer in 2002, and have spent the last 20+ years managing construction of many large and complex transportation projects in Central Pennsylvania. My SDCET degree from Penn State Harrisburg and the construction specific courses I was able to take there gave me the tools I needed to be an effective construction manager. I drive past my projects that were completed 20 years ago and remember the challenges that we faced and the problems that we overcame during construction. I am proud that my efforts resulted in something that people use every day, and will continue to serve it's intended purpose for decades to come.
Brian Moore '94,Direction, Transportation Services,JBC Associates, Inc.
Beginning my journey in the SDCET program at Penn State Harrisburg started a little bit differently than others. I came to Penn State Harrisburg with the intention of earning a structural design degree, but unfortunately at the time I enrolled, I didn’t know about the SDCET program so I enrolled in the architectural engineering program. I really had no interest in attending the University Park campus, as I wanted to continue working full-time and going to school full-time. Towards the end of my third semester, some friends mentioned the SDCET program and I switched majors right away. Luckily, I had some great professors and advisors who helped with the switch and I didn’t fall behind at all. I am so happy with this decision, the SDCET program had everything that I was looking for and then some. Unfortunately, COVID didn’t allow my class to have as much hands-on experience as the program sets us up to have, but I still had a great experience, even with everything happening in the world. Penn State Harrisburg and the SDCET program landed me an amazing job immediately upon graduation. I came into my career with a lot of knowledge because of what I learned in the SDCET program and because of that, I am currently excelling in my first year at my company! I wouldn’t have all of the success I have now without Penn State Harrisburg and the SDCET program and for that I am forever thankful.
Bradley Sweger '21,Transportation Construction Inspector/Engineer,McTish, Kunkel & Associates
My path to Penn State Harrisburg and the SDCET program was a little different. I came from the University Park campus to the Harrisburg area to work and finish my degree. I worked at PennDOT's material testing lab, testing all forms of asphalt while completing my SDCET degree. Once I got my degree, I began work as a systems engineer for Koch Paving Solutions, an asphalt paving design and application company. In this position, we designed asphalt systems, tested local materials for each specific job, taught local contractors how we wanted our system applied and then walked the line with them as the road was paved/treated. Unfortunately, Koch Industries sold the business. Thanks to the SDCET broad-based education, I had options. I took a job as the construction standards manager for a local new home warranty company, helping builders and homeowners come to solutions concerning construction issues for all styles of new-builds, from high-rises to single family homes. When the opportunity at Penn State Harrisburg as the civil engineering lab supervisor came open, I jumped at the chance. Making sure that our students have the very best lab experience and a perspective from someone who has been in the field fulfills me on a regular basis. My wife calls this job my "pre-retirement gig", and she's most likely right. I love it.
David Boyd '02,CE Lab Supervisor,Penn State University
I'm originally from Boston and always wanted to study engineering. I grew in a family of builders and wanted to gain technical knowledge about engineering and construction practices. I originally applied to Penn State University Park but was overwhelmed with the classroom sizes and the majors offered were not for me. Harrisburg offered the best of both worlds...smaller classroom sizes and hands-on, technical learning about structural design and construction engineering. The SDCET program provided technical and practical lessons which I utilize everyday in my profession at Whiting-Turner.
Marc Mercurio '93,Senior Project Manager,The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company