April 08, 2013 12:00AM
Jonathan Van Order is no stranger to traveling.
He was born in Syracuse, N.Y., where he lived until he was 15. Next was Mandeville, La. A few years later, it was Pittsburg, Kan., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in technology, majoring in automotive technology and diesel and heavy equipment.
After graduating from Pittsburg State University in 1997, Van Order’s travels became global. He lived and worked in Geneva, Switzerland, and Amsterdam, The Netherlands, before moving to Toronto, Ontario, where he now works for Caterpillar Global Mining as a parts and service sales representative.
“Working overseas has been a rewarding experience for me and my family,” Van Order said. “Learning about different cultures, countries and people has opened my mind up in so many ways.”
His story is a familiar one for PSU grads in the heavy and diesel equipment industry.
“More and more, we are seeing our graduates find employment around the world,” said Tim Dell, PSU associate professor of automotive technology. “Our students are learning and attaining skills at PSU that are very attractive to a variety of companies, many of which have a global presence. Because of the experience and training that they receive at Pittsburg State, there really are no limits to where our graduates can go and how much they can succeed.”
Parsons native Aaron Heady recently found out just how many doors can open for PSU grads. In 2008, he earned a bachelor of science degree in diesel and heavy equipment. A few years later, he accepted a position with John Deere at its Waterloo, Iowa, plant.
“After almost two years in this position,” Heady said, “I was offered a new position in Mannheim, Germany, to help mentor the DTAC (Dealer Technical Assistance Center) reps located there. We have now lived here for a little over a year. It has been an experience of a lifetime so far. It has been very interesting to live here and see how another culture works in day-to-day life,” Heady said. “Without Pitt State’s many connections to the top companies in the industry and the structure of the program, there is no way I would be where I am today.”
Ben Moore, a 2006 diesel and heavy equipment graduate of PSU, has lived in four countries in the past five years. His current post is as an equipment performance manager at Caterpillar Global’s Mining Division in Mohammedia, Morocco. His coverage area includes Mauritania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and several other countries in North Africa.
Moore has also worked in Russia, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. He described the overseas experience as “life-changing.”
“Living overseas has been a very humbling experience, one which has made me look at our world from a different perspective from most individuals,” he said. “The basics of the work performed is very similar to that of working in the U.S., and that is where the similarities end.
“I don't really think that anyone could be fully prepared for what they experience that moment when their feet hit the ground in a different country,” Moore said.
Like many of PSU grads working in the U.S. and around the world, Moore said it was the education he received at Pittsburg State that made possible his professional opportunities.
“The faculty at the College of Technology in their own accord is the best asset between the walls of that building,” he said. “Sitting in classes taught by those who have worked in similar industry and know individuals from the many levels within the companies really says something for those of us sitting on the other side of the table.”
Van Order, now more than 15 years removed from campus, said he always thinks of PSU when new career opportunities arise.
“I can honestly say without the education I earned at PSU I would not be where I am today,” he said.