Speaker Builds Up Engineers' Profession

Posted: March 01, 1992

Cardinal O'Hara sophomore Jackie DePietro figured engineers just operate

trains.

But after listening to Chuck Pennoni, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), she knows differently.

Pennoni spent the morning at the high school in Marple Township recently to talk about his profession.

"There's still a lot of misconception about what an engineer does," said Pennoni, who is the president of C. R. Pennoni Associates Inc. in Philadelphia. He talked about civil engineers, his area of expertise; electrical, chemical and architectural engineers.

His visit was part of National Engineers Week last month where thousands of ASCE members were visiting schools nationwide. ASCE, one of the oldest national engineering societies in the country, has more than 107,000 members.

Pennoni showed a 12-minute video of engineers at work restoring the Statue of Liberty in 1985, making the engine of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle run smoothly, helping create the Super Glove for Nintendo and working with the space program.

In the video, Col. Mark Brown, an astronaut and enginee 2/5 said, "Just about everything we use in our daily life was touched by an engineer."

And Pennoni, 54, who lives in Haverford Township, echoed that when talking about the recently completed Blue Route.

"The Blue Route was conceived in the 1930s by civil engineers in transportation," he said. "They designed it. Civil engineers deal with things the public can use, everything in your living environment, like the water supply and where we can get it.

"Engineering is teamwork. When we (civil engineers) are working on a new water-supply system, we work with chemists, laboratories, geologists and electrical engineers."

Pennoni talked about the need to work hard in high school and college and suggested taking math, science and communications courses.

"The engineering job outlook has always been good, and they are a well- paid profession," Pennoni said. "Our society has become so high-tech there's a need for more engineers."

Pennoni said it was a difficult job, but one where the rewards are great.

He said even after 25 years in the profession, he spends about 40 hours a year taking more courses to keep up with what's going on.

Brian Friel, a senior from Springfield, gave up his lunch period to hear Pennoni speak.

"I want to be a chemical engineer, but I got a lot of new information about civil engineering and other areas," Friel said. "He was an excellent source of information."

DePietro, who said she would like to become a veterinarian, said Pennoni sparked her interest.

"I never realized there were so many different kinds of engineers," she said. "They do things I never really thought about. They have really interesting jobs."

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