C. R. (Chuck) Pennoni, P.E.
Pennoni Associates, Inc.
Engineering, Drexel University
Engineering, Drexel University
"As Chairman and CEO
of Pennoni Associates, Inc., my duties include the establishment
and administration of corporate policy, business planning and
budgeting, and the coordination and oversight of the programs
and initiatives developed and implemented to achieve corporate
"Learn a second
language, work and study in another country and by all means
acquire a master's degree. It is important to learn how to learn
and to acquire as broad an education as possible, including work
place and cultural experiences, and then to proceed to post
graduate education in your area of interest, recognizing
learning is life-long."
"We in our long range plan, look to do more work globally for a number of
reasons and in order to support that, when we're hiring we try to hire
people who are willing to travel, willing to work in other countries and
other cultures and hopefully are bilingual or multilingual. There's not
that large a work force in the United States today that will meet that
criteria but we've been successful in getting some of the work force in
our firm that would be willing to do that."
"When I graduated from college, I was trained technically and
economically. And then I saw the environmental concerns come into the work
place so I had to be sensitive to environmental concerns. And then the
public started to get very involved in projects. When the public got
involved, the politicians got involved because the public would turn to
their, their government and say why is this being done and why is it being
done this way? Or why is it being done here? And once the politicians got
involved and the public and the legal profession got involved representing
both sides, then aesthetics became a big issue as well, and because of
tight budgets and government, financing. Not just the economics but the
"While in college, students should take the opportunity to work in the
area where they think that they want to pursue a career...I can't stress
enough the importance of getting into the work force and really
experiencing what you think you want to do while you're in college."
"We are truly in a global economy, and the engineer going out into the
work force today may be expected to work with people from other countries
who are here in the United States or may be expected to travel to other
countries representing the company, the United States company for which
they would work. So they need to have an understanding of the differences
in cultures, how people communicate, how they live, how they speak."
"So the combination of a degree in engineering, four years of internship,
passing the fundamentals of engineering exam, eight hour exam, and the
principles of engineering exam, another eight hour exam, then allows you
to become a licensed engineer in whatever jurisdiction you were tested.
Now in the 55 jurisdictions in the United States -- that's the 50 states
plus five others which are Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and so forth,
there's a lot of portability with that. If you meet the basic
requirements, you could essentially apply to other states and get a
license in the other states. But that licensing is very important if you
want to be in private practice where you are directly dealing with the
safety, health, and welfare of the public."
"There are more engineers today or more students today that are getting
that first degree in engineering and then going on to something else,
whether it's law or medicine or getting advanced degrees to go into
research or education. The financial world has discovered engineers in
recent years and you find a lot of engineering graduates working on Wall
Street and working in the financial world. I have a friend who is a
graduate from RPI in electrical engineering who right out of college went
to work for Chemical Bank and has moved up the ladder at Chemical Bank and
is a vice president of Chemical Bank. And he says that his familiarity
with numbers and his training to identify problems and solve problems is
what helped him quite a bit in the financial world."
Q: What's your biggest
project that you're doing right now? Or the most interesting?
The most interesting project
we're doing right now is in Japan where we have an operations and
maintenance contract on an air force base where we do all of the
operations, maintenance, testing, repairs for a fuel depot. And that's jet
fuel for jet planes. So that is a real high tech operation and it's really
interesting and challenging.
Q: Where did you go to
school, where did you get your training?
I have a Bachelor's of Science
and a Master of Science in civil engineering from Drexel University here
Q: Is Drexel a really
major supplier for this kind of work?
Drexel University is over 100 years old and the university is about 10,000
students, of which 45% are engineers. Engineering is the largest college
at Drexel University. The area relies on Drexel quite a bit for a supply
of engineers and Drexel prides itself in the fact that it places all of
their graduates because of their cooperative program. Engineers who
graduate from Drexel have essentially two years of experience upon
graduation because they serve an internship in the cooperative program at
Drexel and that really makes them very employable in the work place.
Q: Tell me more about the
importance of doing a coop. For instance, if you're evaluating a new hire
or in light of your own experience with engineers.
When Pennoni Associates is
looking for an engineer to add to our staff, we look for a number of
things. Besides looking for the education, the quality of the education
and the area or discipline of the education, we also look for someone who
has experience. And that experience is usually gained through a
cooperative program such as Drexel University's. Drexel is not the only a
coop school in the United States; Northeastern and Cincinnati are also
cooperative education schools. We find that that experience is very, very
important in coming into the work force because it allows the engineer to
be productive from the first day on the job as opposed to going through an
orientation and training program. So although we don't hire exclusively
from cooperative education schools because we recognize we should have a
good mix in our work force, we do look to Drexel quite a bit for graduates
because of that internship that has been achieved.
What issues are there that engineers have to be aware of today and
what would your advice to students be?
As an engineer/businessman, one of the things you must be very
concerned about is professional practice and ethics. I always like
to say ethics, like law and morality, change with time and
geography. For example, at one time it was unethical for engineers
to bid for work but that was taken out of the code of ethics in the
seventies and today bidding is not unethical. It was unethical to
advertise in a self laudatory manner. Again that was removed by t he
Department of Justice from the code of ethics of all the
professions, lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers and so
forth, and today you can advertise in a self laudatory manner. What
is ethical in the United States or unethical in the United States
may not be unethical in another country. And you've seen it with law
and morality as well. Gambling is a classic example. Not many years
ago, almost every form of gambling was illegal. Today states have
their own lotteries and so forth and so on. So it is a very complex
issue. Engineers focus an awful lot on ethics and professionalism.
Where you find it is in the classroom. You find it in your state
board examinations and you find it in your involvement in your
professional societies and professional organizations. So engineers
are bound by very strict code of ethics and code of conduct. And
it's monitored, it's monitored by the professions. So you want to
make sure you understand it, you should study it. There are courses
available as you go through college. And you want to understand how
to apply it and what to do and what not to do.