The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

August 12, 2012

In their fathers' footsteps | Three cousins who are offsprings of engineers will study same

Ruth Rice

— The careers of the Morello family have been well, if unintentionally, engineered.

Brothers Sam, Fred and Pat are engineers, and now some of their children are poised to be college freshmen this fall in the engineering field.

Sam Morello of Westmont is the oldest, at 53, and an electrical engineer and partner with ARM EnerTech Associates LLC, 311 Warren St., Westmont.

He received his schooling at the University of Pittsburgh and joined the engineering firm in 1994.

Before then, he had worked at Bethlehem Steel Corp., and when the Johnstown plant closed, he considered moving his family to Harrisburg, where what was then EnerTech Associates had an office.

The company formed a Johnstown office, hired Morello and was acquired by ARM, another Harrisburg engineering firm, in 2010.

When Sam Morello started at the Johnstown office, there were four employees. There are now 40.

“My dad and uncle were dabblers in TVs and radios,” Sam Morello said, explaining his interest in electronics. “This was in the days of radio tubes and shortwave radios. I won the science fair in the eighth grade with an electric organ I made. I saw engineering as a way to go forward.”

His daughter, Samantha, who will study computer engineering at Pitt-Johnstown this fall, wanted to become a meteorologist, then leaned toward computer engineering.

“We researched some schools,” Sam Morello said. “She was always good in science and math, so she would be able to do both, but I wanted her to do what she wanted and make the decision.”

They found there are two campuses in Pennsylvania that offer meteorology – Penn State, which Samantha found too large, and the smaller Millersville University near Lancaster.

Samantha said she took a look at Pitt’s main campus, but didn’t apply because it didn’t feel right to her.

“I love smaller campuses, and UPJ was my first pick,” she said. “I figure I could go to grad school at Pitt main.”

The fact that freshman classes for meteorology and engineering are virtually the same made Samantha’s decision to choose between the two even harder.

“I’ve always had a fascination for the weather,” Samantha said. “I would watch storms and want to know how they worked. I thought it would be cool to study. I’ve wanted to do this from forever.”

Samantha also has always been good with computers, and because first-year classes are so similar, her father told her she could always switch majors at a later date.

“Going from engineering to meteorology will be easier than going from meteorology to engineering,” Samantha said. “I’ve kept ties with Millersville, and they thought it was a good idea to go with engineering.”

There is a meteorology class at Pitt-Johnstown, but Samantha knows she won’t have time to take it this year.

Sam Morello is on the Pitt-Johnstown advisory board for the engineering group, so he reviews programming and works with students on senior projects and exit interviews.

At orientation, he did not see many women entering Pitt-Johnstown’s engineering program and knows they are a minority in the field.

“I am seeing more women in engineering though, especially civil engineering,” he said.

“They’re tech-driven. You see more females in computers.”

In the corporate world, he thinks young engineers can go in a number of directions.

“A trained engineer can move into management and not stay on the technical track,” Sam Morello said. “Engineering is a great way to open the door.

“It’s a challenge academically, but employers know you are responsible and bright, and you’ll do well. Some in purchasing and marketing started as engineers.”

Once she studies computer programming, Samantha hopes to work for her father to get a taste of an engineering job.

Her biggest dream is to work for computer giant Apple Inc.

She said her father has always been a hero to her.

“Since I was young, he would give me math problems to do on Sunday mornings,” Samantha said. “I didn’t like having to do them then, but I do now. He would show me his electrical work, and I thought it was cool. I could use computers to practice problems. He has always been a big influence.”

The three Morello cousins are nervous about starting their engineering studies and are anticipating the worst.

“I talk to Melissa (daughter of Pat) a lot, and we’re going to help each other out,” Samantha said.

The three Morello freshmen will need to take calculus, chemistry, physics and math classes.

Fred Morello, 51, of Richland Township is director of research and development for the engineering department at MIC Industries Inc., 137 Bronze Drive, Elton.

The company also has offices in Winston, Va., and Reston, Va.

He received his training as a mechanical engineer at Pitt-Johnstown and worked at the former Thiele Manufacturing LLC for 11 years.

Along with a team of 10, he developed and designed a machine that can build the world’s widest building. The machine has been sold to the Department of Defense and is being used in 66 countries.

“The Ultimate Building Machine is the prime achievement of my life,” Fred Morello said. “There’s nothing faster and cheaper.”

MIC Industries’ website explains that “The Ultimate Building Machine” is an all-terrain factory on wheels that produces durable steel buildings in days rather than weeks or months.

A small crew of 10-12 workers can manufacture and assemble a

10,000-square-foot structure in as little as a day.

Fred Morello is a registered professional engineer in Pennsylvania and Virginia and holds 27 patents.

His son, Evan, who will attend Pitt-Johnstown for mechanical engineering in the fall, has always liked mechanics.

The younger Morello’s current project is making a motor bike using a chain saw engine.

“I’d like to see how that turns out,” his father said. “I let him go to decide what he wants to do.”

Another engineer could possibly come from this branch of the Morello family.

Evan’s sister, Kristen, 14, is setting her sights on structural engineering if she doesn’t become a marine biologist.

At 47, Pat Morello of Geneva, Ill., is the youngest brother and benefited from seeing his older siblings go through engineering classes.

“I had a mechanical ability, but I didn’t tear apart cars,” he said. “I saw my brothers go through their schooling, get good jobs and make a difference.

“I heard about what Sam designed at Bethlehem Steel and was a summer intern with Fred. I saw what you could do through building and design.”

Pat Morello is director of purchasing and commercial product development for Navistar Defense, which builds and supports military vehicles in Lisle, Ill.

“For the first 20 years of my career, I worked as a mechanical engineer for different companies – Mack Trucks in Allentown (Lehigh County) and Dynamics Corp. in Cincinnati,” he said. “I’ve worked for Navistar for 17 years and have been in purchasing for about five years.

“The key is to start off in engineering. The opportunities are greater. They’re looking for technical people.”

With two older brothers in engineering, Pat Morello made sure he had a strong foundation in math and science.

He saw that others have a good career and can do a lot of different things.

“I want to emphasize there are so many doors,” he said. “You don’t have to design your whole life.”

His daughter, Melissa, who will study industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh in the fall, has known she wanted to be an engineer for two years, but hadn’t decided on a specialty.

“I shadowed someone at Navistar and liked industrial the best,” she said. “I want to work in a plant on the business side.”

After completing a school search, she discovered that a small school in Illinois and Pitt had comparable engineering programs.

“I wanted the Pitt experience,” Melissa said. “Pitt is the perfect school for me. I couldn’t imagine not going there.”

She explained that an industrial engineer doesn’t build things but makes an existing process more efficient, such as the production line in a manufacturing plant.

“Industrial engineers are becoming more desired as efficiency experts,” her father said.

Melissa said she will be excited to get a job in her field after college.

“I’ll go wherever the job is ready,” she said.

Pat Morello said with all three cousins having fathers who have studied engineering, they know it’s not going to be easy.

“They won’t go in blind, they’ll have their eyes wide open,” he said. “They know it’s a lot of work.”

With all three teens going into engineering, Pat Morello believed there was a need to promote the field.

“When we interview new graduates, the number of engineers is going down,” he said.

“I was impressed with the evolution of the Pitt engineering program. At orientation, I felt comfortable with how they were running it. They have a focus on how they’re going to retain students. They have engineering students living together on campus, which they didn’t have when I was there.”

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