Engineering grad touts York College’s hands-on learning for early career success
Even when he was young, Andrew Gotliffe knew he’d be an engineer.
“I’ve always wanted to take things apart since I was a kid,” he says.
Before graduating from York College of Pennsylvania in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Andrew worked with everything from boilers and water heaters to vacuum systems for plutonium smelting.
He credits his education both inside and outside of the classroom that prepared him for his early success in his field.
“The hands-on experience and personal relationships you form with Engineering professors is second to none,” he says.
Size and availability
Andrew remembers touring colleges as a high-school student and being turned off by the hundreds of seats in the lecture halls he saw at larger universities. But when he visited York College, he saw classrooms and was even able to poke his head into the Engineering professors’ offices and talk to them.
“It was a more personal college experience,” he says. “I knew that’s how I had to learn and wouldn’t have done well in a 300-person lecture.”
The professors’ availability came in handy during his time at York College, as well.
They were available in the engineering building whenever students had questions or needed help with their challenging homework or other assignments, Andrew says.
After two years of study, York College Mechanical Engineering students have the opportunity for hands-on experience in the field in the form of cooperative education experiences, called "co-ops" for short.
Andrew had three semester-long periods in various job sites.
The first was with a contractor in New Jersey. One of his primary projects during this time was upgrading outdated boilers and water heaters in New York City project buildings. Andrew had to draw and map out where mounting and installations would occur.
The second co-op experience was with Graham Packaging in York. The company specializes in plastic bottles, and Andrew drew up parts that were ultimately assembled for a facility rebuild.
His final internship took place with the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico. Andrew helped prepare parts for a new vacuum system for plutonium smelting.
The beginnings of a career
After graduation, Andrew not only left with a four-year degree, but his co-op experience provided another full year of engineering experience, he says.
“It felt like I was one year above every other graduate, not just fresh out of the classroom.”
His final co-op program led him to the next stage of his career. Through a connection that he made at the Los Alamos National Lab, Andrew landed a job at Westinghouse Electric, a nuclear power plant service company in Tennessee.
Today, he’s a machine design engineer with Southeastern Tool and Design, where he designs fixtures, tooling and machine components for Chattanooga-based manufacturing companies.