Catching Up With...Clay Durham, Class of '92
Clay Durham: Class of 1992 (Susquenita High School, Data Processing)
Clay is a graduate of Susquenita High School and a discontinued CPAVTS program, Data Processing, which has given way to the Computer Programming and Computer Networking courses. Clay has been quite busy advancing in his field within the healthcare industry. He took the time out of his busy schedule to give us some details of where his education has led him in life so far.
Here is what he had to say:
Describe the company or industry in which you currently work.
“I work for Aetna, which is a health insurance company.”
What is your job title and what do you do?
“I set up our system to process medical claims, and process customer (Member and Provider) inquiries in our computer system.”
What other employment have you had related to your program areas at CPAVTS?
“In 1993, I started as a temporary data entry person for Highmark. I was hired full-time after six months. I worked my way up to Claims and Customer Service, and in 1998, when my company was sold, I moved to Health America/Coventry Health Care and maxed out my Claims/Customer Service positions. I posted for a position in Contract Management, programming contract logic; when Coventry was purchased by Aetna in 2013, I posted to a similar position in Aetna, by using their computer system.”
”Basically, you should never lose sight of your passion. Find a way to do what you like—even if it means doing something you don’t like first. You need to make the connections and learn as much as you can to become valuable and trustworthy. You have to be worth the chance an employer gives you, and then do everything you can to succeed beyond their expectations.”
What additional education and training did you receive after leaving CPAVTS, and where did you receive it?
“I took advantage of learning opportunities in the companies I worked for and learned everything I could about my jobs. The most important thing you can do is understand what you are doing, not just do it. I always look for improvement, and I try to make myself as valuable as possible. I try to never say no, but instead ask how to do something.”
How was Cumberland Perry different than your regular high school?
“I was not a good student; I could not stand school. I knew what I wanted to do, I wanted to program. If you learn what you like/love, it makes things so much easier. I also was able to work half a day my senior year through the Co-Op Program, and I worked with the PA Department of Agriculture doing data entry. I was making money and gaining experience that I could put on a resume while my friends were in a classroom.”
How has your industry changed since your time at Cumberland Perry?
“I started working on mainframe computers. I learned RPGII and COBOL at CPAVTS, but after Y2K the opportunities for COBOL died. The logic and the problem solving was still the same. I have been programming claim payment logic since 2003, and I now work at home via the internet. My boss is in Arizona and my team is spread out across the country.”
What is your favorite CPAVTS memory?
“The pancake eating contest that we did for some charity—I forget which charity, but it was fun.”
November 2017- Rotary Students of the Month
Kim-Duyen Phan is a Red Land High School student in the Cosmetology Program. She is a member of the National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) at CPAVTS, and she participates in the Orchestra at Red Land High School; she has also made Student of the Quarter and Honor Roll at CPAVTS. Kim-Duyen plans to attend Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) to study Business Administration.
Victor Genao is a Newport High School student in the Automotive Technology Program. He is a Cooperative Education student at CPAVTS, employed by Hoffman Ford in Harrisburg, and he also made Student of the Quarter and Honor Roll at CPAVTS. He plans to attend the Pennsylvania College of Technology, Ford Asset Program.
Samantha Belz is a Cedar Cliff High School student in the Advertising, Art and Design Program. She is a member of the Cedar Cliff Environmental Club, participates in cheerleading at her home school, is a volunteer at New Hope Ministries, and volunteers at the Breast Cancer Awareness walk for Strides at City Island. Samantha also made Student of the Quarter and Honor Roll at CPAVTS. She plans to continue her education at Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) for Graphic Design.
Logistics & Warehousing: The Face of Cumberland County's Future
Nestled within a three-hour drive of four major U.S. cities, Cumberland County is a major hub for the transportation industry, and as a result, the warehousing industry has become one of the key contributors to the area’s rapid development. Trucks haul goods to their destinations, but without warehouses (and people to keep them organized!) the shipping process would be impossible.
But not just anyone can drive a forklift—you need a special certification for that!—and a trained individual to quickly navigate a warehouse so that items can be picked, packaged, and prepared for delivery in a timely manner. A recent article from the Central Penn Business Journal cited the rise of e-commerce as a major factor in the industry’s growth; combined with central Pennsylvania’s proximity to cities like New York and Washington, D.C., it makes for a perfect strategic location for processing and distributing shipments of goods.
The students in Joe Knouse’s Logistics and Warehouse Management class learn the ins and outs of a warehouse by working in a real one. They store and manage shipments for the entire school, and when it’s time to distribute those items, they know exactly how to use the systems warehouses across the state use to keep track of inventory—and they know their way around a forklift.
“If you are able to operate a forklift, you will never be out of a job in Cumberland County,” said Mr. Knouse. “And there are plenty of openings in my program for kids who want to get out of the classroom and do some hands-on work!”
It’s not a glamorous job, but students graduating from CPAVTS’s Logistics and Warehousing program can make over $15.00 per hour as a forklift operator! And since they are qualified to perform these jobs directly after high school, they can put their skills to work funding their goals—whether they want to earn a college degree or save up for another personal pursuit.
Mr. Knouse’s program is an excellent choice for any student who wants to get away from the standard high school experience and learn some real-world skills—and for some, like Colin (a student from Cumberland Valley), the experience surprised them:
“I decided to come here [to Logistics] because it seemed like the only option since I had two years left of high school. But now I’m really glad that I did! I was nervous at first, but it’s turned out to be a lot of fun!”
A cursory search of Indeed.com (a popular job search site) alone reveals posts for approximately 470 warehouse jobs—about 180 of which are advertising for forklift operators. If that isn’t enough evidence for how in-demand such employees are, the Sentinel recently published its top 50 employers and top 50 industries in Cumberland County. Of the employers, Amazon and Giant Food Stores were in the top three, and of the industries, warehousing was listed as number one.
Local employers are clamoring for skilled employees in the logistics and warehousing industry, and right now there are more jobs available than there are people to fill them. What that means is a high school student with the right skills is all but guaranteed a well-paying job right after graduation—and Mr. Knouse is ready to teach those skills to any student that wants to learn!
Welding Students Learn the Machine of the Future
Most welding is done using the machines you would normally find in the industry—MIG welders, TIG welders, and other heavy equipment—but sometimes you need a part that requires a higher level of finesse and detail. That’s where the PlasmaCAM system comes in.
This system consists of a manual machine that can be used on its own or connected to a computer system; while using it as a Computer Automated Machine, the cuts are far more precise (up to 0.005 inch!) and capable of producing anything from duct fittings for HVAC units to intricate designs, such as the one shown at left.
“I’ve used it to cut things like fittings for Diesel,” said Dakota, a senior from Cumberland Valley School District. “But you can also use it to cut out specific pieces, like a small cut too precise to cut on other machines. Mostly, we use this to cut out designs, like the back pieces for the benches we’re making.”
The student-made benches depict beautiful scenes, such as a deer standing amidst some foliage and butterflies flitting in a field of flowers. All of these require precise cuts that simply wouldn’t be as smooth when created on a different machine.
Said instructor Keith Hammond, “It’s the most advanced computer-controlled machine we have, and heavily design-based too, so it adds diversity to their skill set. Weld shops all over are starting to add these machines to their workshops.”
There is still a high need for parts produced on traditional welding machines, but the PlasmaCAM allows for even more versatility. It’s a complex machine, so students are forced to use their own problem solving skills to operate it; it’s a learning experience that will provide them with experience on these machines that are quickly becoming an important part in the future of the manufacturing industry.
Cooperative Education Spotlight- Hunter Cleveland
Hunter Cleveland, a senior from Mechanicsburg High School, has a career plan in place adults should envy! As a 9th grade student, he completed an application for the Welding Program at Cumberland Perry AVTS, was accepted later that year, and jumped right to work as a 10th grader. After 2 years of classwork and hands-on-training, Hunter decided to put his skillset to good use through the Cooperative Education Program: He applied for a position with H.B. McClure in August and is now gainfully employed. Each day on the shop floor at H.B. McClure brings a new adventure for Hunter. He can often be seen MIG and Stick welding plates, pipe, and structural steel; and with H.B McClure being in the HVAC business, we can’t forget soldering copper pipe, manipulating duct work, and threading pipe. Training supervisor Dan Scuble raves about the knowledge and work ethic that Hunter bring to work each and every day. Dan states that Hunter is ‘one of the guys’ and barring any unforeseen circumstances, looks forward to having him around full time after graduation. Hunter envisions running his own business some day and is definitely setting up the foundation for such a vision. Not many high school seniors or young adults have their careers mapped out as well as Hunter: Only success awaits this young man!