Steinbright Then & Now: Facts
Number of academic majors participating in the co-op program:
Average pay for engineering co-op students (per month)
Pennoni Associates Inc. and Drexel Co-op: Growing Up Together
By: Lauren McHale
Mr. Pennoni works with two co-op students in his
What began as a one-man business venture 46 years ago has since evolved into one of the country's top engineering firms, now boasting a roster of nearly 1,000 employees nationwide. Pennoni Associates Inc. is a full-service consulting engineering firm headquartered in Philadelphia with 28 offices in ten different states and an ever-growing list of national and international clients. In addition to being regarded as an industry leader, Pennoni Associates also remains one of Drexel University's most longstanding and valued co-op employers.
C.R. "Chuck" Pennoni, PE, the firm's founder and chairman, vividly recalls the sustained growth of his business in its fledgling years: "I started my business alone in 1966, and by 1967 I knew I needed help in order to accommodate my growing client base. That's when I decided to hire co-op students for the first time, and I've been hiring them every year since then."
Mr. Pennoni's earliest recruits were civil engineering students. With steady growth and an expanding scope of services, came the firm's need to scout co-op talent from other sectors outside of engineering. "We pretty much run the gamut in terms of disciplines, including IT, marketing and corporate services," Pennoni mentions with regard to the firm's opportunities for co-op students. Regardless of the discipline, Mr. Pennoni has always been adamant about each co-op student having a meaningful experience governed by hands-on work. "There is no making coffee or running errands," he explained. "Co-ops can do a lot more than what we give them credit for being capable of performing. Our company culture has always been open and inclusive, and we are constantly working hard to educate," said Pennoni.
Mr. Pennoni's investment in the co-op program predates his years at Pennoni Associates Inc. "I have a strong appreciation for co-op, and my perspective on it has been strengthened through my different capacities at Drexel University," he explained. Earning both his BS (1963) and MS (1966) in Civil Engineering from Drexel, Pennoni was able to first experience co-op through the eyes of a student, having completed two engineering co-ops during his collegiate years. Since that time, he has assumed integral leadership roles at the University including serving as two-time interim president, once from 1994-1995 and again more recently from 2009-2010, as well as having previously served as a University trustee and chairman of the board. Mr. Pennoni believes that Drexel University has been the benchmark for other colleges and universities in terms of demonstrating the value of the co-op program. "A lot of other colleges that originally did not support the idea of cooperative education now offer it," remarked Pennoni with regard to the positive outcomes the program has experienced.
As the co-op program continues to develop and expand, Mr. Pennoni views international co-op as a valuable opportunity for both students and the University going forward. "We are in a global economy, and we live in a multicultural society," said Pennoni. He stressed the importance of students immersing themselves in another culture to broaden both their perspective and "gain an understanding of different economies, cultural norms and different work ethics." Mr. Pennoni believes with certainty that students who pursue an international co-op will "gain valuable knowledge and perspective that will help them advance in their careers."
Pennoni Associates continues to hire between 15 and 20 co-op students per year, and Mr. Pennoni has no plans to change that. "I have been in business for 46 years, survived eight recessions, and never had a year without profit," he said with pride. In addition to sacrifice, family support, steadfast commitment and unparalleled customer service, Mr. Pennoni credits co-op students with having a hand in building a successful company. "Co-ops enabled us to have steady growth," he explained. "During economic peaks and valleys, we were able to maintain a steadiness instead of instituting an ongoing series of hiring and layoffs," he said. "I remember one year in particular when we hired 22 co-ops in response to the economic climate," Pennoni recalled. Looking ahead, Pennoni Associates intends to maintain its position not only as a leading co-op employer, but more importantly as "an active and engaged member of the Drexel community."
Judy Shatz: 30 Years and Counting with Steinbright
By: Shirley Nand
Ms. Judy Shatz has been at the forefront of the Steinbright Career Development Center for the past 30 years and has seen the changes that have taken place in the co-op program. Judy recalls a time when the office was simply addressed as "Drexel's Co-op Office" rather than the "Steinbright Career Development Center," and when the office was just a small room located in the Main Building.
Judy began working for Steinbright after attending the since-closed Philadelphia School of Office Training from 1976 to 1977. She found the job posting in the Philadelphia Inquirer and with words of encouragement from her sister, applied and began her new job as a receptionist for the co-op office in 1981.
Over the years, Judy saw many changes around the office. The staff has doubled from about 25 to 50 people, and the presence of international students has grown significantly. The most obvious change among the staff has been that the Steinbright Center used to be run mostly by men, but is now staffed mostly with women.
Technological changes over the years have not only made Judy's job easier but have also helped the office to run more smoothly and efficiently. She remembers the excitement when the office got its first copier because it meant the receptionists would no longer have to walk to the Commonwealth Building (now the LeBow Engineering Center) to make photocopies. Judy remembers when the fax machines would flood on deadline dates and when the office made the transition from using typewriters to Macintosh computers in the 1980s and then to PCs in the 1990s. Before SCDConline started up in the early 2000s to manage the co-op recruiting process, Judy recalls when students had to look through a special co-op catalogue and fill out a Scantron document called a grid sheet to choose prospective jobs, after which coordinators would send out resumes to each employer.
In the 1980s, Judy decided to put herself in the shoes of the students she worked with and enrolled in a Spanish class at Drexel. Several years later in 2004, she decided to pursue her degree in general studies, and has been taking classes steadily since. Judy has found that taking these classes has complemented her work at Drexel as the classes help her use more in-depth thinking, which in turn help her make better decisions in her daily work.
Although the Steinbright Career Development Center has seen many changes over the years, Judy believes the importance of co-op to each student's future career goals has remained the same. For the past 30 years, Judy has thoroughly enjoyed playing a role in the development of Drexel students' careers and looks forward to helping many more students achieve their goals through the Drexel Co-op program.