Late Start to Jump Start

Kent State University at Tuscarawas provides partnerships and support to help engineering student get a head start in his career
Kent State Works Stacked Graphic

Zachery Pfouts’s journey to the job of his dreams looked more like a mountain trail than a straight path. Along the way, Pfouts found Kent State University at Tuscarawas. The campus’s distinctive Bachelor of Science and Engineering Technology degree turned out to be the key to his success.  

Pfouts had gone to school, but his job searches in his fields of interest came up short.  

“I actually went to a local community college, and I got my associate degree in applied science in mechanical engineering. I took about a two-year break and found out that I can't really find any jobs with an associate degree,” Pfouts said. “I told myself, ‘Hey, I'm going to finish school, and I'm going to get all this done,’ and it has paid off.”

At Kent State Tuscarawas, students in the program must complete an internship and take the capstone class. These were two key factors in Pfouts’s success after graduation.  

“I really enjoyed the capstone class project that we had to do because it let us go off on our own, but it still aligned with the class material,” Pfouts said.  

Pfouts was able to combine his capstone class project with his internship, which later turned into a full-time position with Battle Motors. His internship started May 2023, and he was hired as a manufacturing engineer in August before even graduating.  

Zachery Pfouts points to his diploma

Battle Motors is in the vocational truck industry, building custom and heavy-duty trucks for refuse and recycling, infrastructure maintenance, ground support, agriculture and oil and gas industries, according to its website.  

In the capstone class, Pfouts was able to show his work through what he was doing at Battle Motors.

“For Battle Motors, we just got AGVs, which are autonomous guided vehicles, and we had one for our internal combustion engine line. We planned on integrating another one into our battery electric vehicle line,” Pfouts said. “There was only one other manufacturing engineer on my team who actually knew the whole ins and outs of that AGV. So, I created a field guide for the guys on my team. That way they could access that information more easily, and I also designed and created a functioning AGV model.”  

Dr. Dhruba Panthi
Dhruba Panthi, Ph.D.

Pfouts said he was motivated and inspired during his time at Kent State by Dhruba Panthi, Ph.D., associate professor of engineering and technology at Kent State Tuscarawas. Pfouts had Panthi for his machine design and capstone courses, and said he was his favorite teacher and most influential mentor.  

“He was not with us for a long time, but he progressed very well,” Panthi said. “I think when he came here, he was looking for success, and he landed in a very good job.”  

Panthi emphasizes that he taught Pfouts in two upper-division courses that required certain skills, and Pfouts excelled.  

“He was just really good. We are an open enrollment campus, so you have a broad range of skills and knowledge levels for different classes,” Panthi said. “The machine design class needed strong math skills and strong design-oriented skills. And, he had both.”

Pfouts graduated in December 2023 from Kent State Tuscarawas with a Bachelor of Science and Engineering Technology with a focus in mechanical systems.

Pfouts said that Kent State’s industry connections and coursework helped him to get where he is today.  

“We have a lot of variety in our lines, different options,” Pfouts said, referring to his work. “And I created this methodology to compensate for that variation. I was approached by the VP at General Motors, and I have been asked to train some of the team.”

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POSTED: Wednesday, February 14, 2024 10:58 AM
Updated: Friday, April 12, 2024 12:43 PM
Francesca Malinky, Flash Communications
Zachery Pfouts