Pratt & Whitney awards scholarships to PBSC engineering technology students

Sonya Mingola knew she wanted to be an engineer since middle school, as one of the first students in the school’s new engineering academy. After high school she enrolled at Florida State University in Tallahassee. But after just one semester, she decided to leave. “FSU was too big and impersonal for me and most of the teaching was done by grad students,” Mingola said. So she transferred to PBSC’s engineering technology program to get her Associates in Science degree with a concentration in alternative energy sources. “At PBSC, every teacher knows you by name and they’re really accessible.”

Fast forward one year and Mingola is thriving at PBSC. The 20-year-old Royal Palm Beach resident was one of 10 PBSC engineering students to receive a $2,500 scholarship from Pratt & Whitney, a global engineering firm that design, manufactures and services commercial and military aircraft engines. While the scholarship offers generous financial assistance, students also were grateful for the validation it confers. “To have a major company like Pratt & Whitney recognize me, especially as a woman in STEM really means a lot,” said Mingola.

Doug Breindel, associate director, systems engineering at Pratt & Whitney presented the awards at a Feb. 22 ceremony at PBSC’s Gardens campus. The other recipients are Adam Gintner, Richard Gonzalez, Jayden Taylor, Ashley Martinez-Diaz, Khaliq Davidson, Felipe Diaz-Lodono, Devean Simeon, Ricardo Salvato and Hugo DeDiego.

Since PBSC’s partnership with Pratt & Whitney began in 2016, more than 80 of the college’s engineering students have received scholarships from the company. Besides student scholarship, Pratt & Whitney has also provided PBSC Engineering Technology students with career mentoring, internships, lab equipment, guest lectures and expert feedback on curriculum. Students pursuing the two-year Engineering Technology A.S. degree and shorter certificate programs gain the knowledge and hands-on skills needed for well-paying engineering support positions in many industries, such as manufacturing, aerospace and alternative energy as well as in structural modeling, drafting and design.

Following the presentation, students got the chance to hear from leading engineering companies in a panel discussion. Representatives from Pratt & Whitney, civil engineering firm Kimley Horn and SV Microwave, which designs and manufactures components used in the military, satellite, aerospace and telecommunications industries, discussed potential career tracks for PBSC’s Engineering Technology graduates. One of the panelists from SV Microwave was Rebecca Hughes who graduated from the Engineering Technology program in December 2023. While still at PBSC, she was offered a paid internship at SV Microwave which led to a job immediately after graduation.

It’s a similar story for Juan Rodas, a 22-year-old in his final year of the Engineering Technology degree. After attending this event last year, the Colombia native was offered an internship at Kimley-Horn. That internship resulted in a job offer after he graduates in May. “Our goal with every intern is to turn them into a new hire,” said David Kalle, an engineer with Kimley-Horn.

Rodas, who also received a scholarship on Feb. 22 from Wafer World, a West Palm Beach-based manufacturer of high-quality silicon wafers, eventually hopes to pursue a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. “The idea is that I will work for Kimley-Horn after graduating and there is even the possibility that they might be able to help fund my studies later on,” Rodas said.

All the panelists agreed that while they have no trouble finding fully qualified engineers, there is a shortage of engineering technologists, skilled employees who have hands-on experience with engineering mechanical, electrical, manufacturing and alternative energy systems. But graduates from PBSC’s engineering technology programs are filling the gap getting jobs with starting salaries of $50,000 and upwards immediately upon graduation.

Learning about the massive opportunities for PBSC’s engineering technology grads inspired Mingola’s 20-year-old boyfriend, Daniel Bejarano, who accompanied her to the panel discussion to take a tour of campus and PBSC’s engineering labs. Seeing all the different kind of tools and high-tech equipment so intrigued Bejarano, who works in IT at a local school, that he plans to enroll for classes next fall.

-Staff Report, Palm Beach State College

Source: Pratt & Whitney awards scholarships to PBSC engineering technology students