After earning an associate degree in music recording technology, Virginia Gugliotti transferred to Penn State Wilkes‑Barre to pursue a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology. She hopes to use both of her degrees to work in audio electronics and make music.
By: Goldie Van Horn
Student pursuing electrical engineering technology degree at Penn State Wilkes‑Barre to combine interests in music and electronics
Virginia Gugliotti discovered her passion for electronics during a class at Luzerne County Community College (LCCC). After earning her associate degree in music recording technology, she transferred to Penn State Wilkes-Barre to pursue a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology (EET) with a minor in engineering leadership development.
“Throughout high school, I had classes that were math- and science-based, but I didn’t have much exposure to electronics related to math and science, so I didn’t realize how much of an interest I had in electronics until I took an audio electronics class at LCCC,” Gugliotti said. “I realized I wanted to pursue that. Most jobs in this field require a bachelor’s degree, so I wanted to go somewhere that had a good name and program.”
Many LCCC programs, like Gugliotti’s, can transfer to a four-year Penn State degree. Some programs have a predefined path outlined in an articulation agreement, while others may take some customization based on a student's desired outcome. Advisers at Penn State Wilkes-Barre work with transfer students to help them reach their end goals.
Gugliotti is now a junior at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, commuting from her hometown of Mountain Top. A graduate of Crestwood High School, she first visited the campus during the spring of her final year at LCCC.
“I enjoyed the atmosphere of Penn State Wilkes-Barre. It was very quiet and set in nature, and a lot of professors here are very personable,” Gugliotti said. “When I came for the tour, I met with Tim Sichler, who is now my adviser and professor. We talked about what classes I needed and he was very helpful. And he continues to give me great advice.”
Sichler said, “Virginia is a creative student who uses her knowledge, enthusiastic curiosity and strong work ethic to dive into any electronic or school-related issue and come up with a workable solution.”
On campus, Gugliotti is involved with the Radio Club as president and JAM (Just Amazing Musicians) as vice president.
“Both clubs work together and both are music oriented. Sometimes we have our meetings together or work together on fundraisers for club operations,” she said. “Last year we had a winter formal on campus and the Radio Club set up the equipment for the music provided during the dance.”
Gugliotti is also completing an internship at i2M, a Mountain Top-based manufacturing company in the plastics industry. As part of her internship, she is working on a project using an infrared thermometer to measure temperatures on power supply connections, circuit breakers, and fuses throughout the plant. She has also been asked to assist with wiring devices and circuit boards.
“My internship is about 32 hours a week and I’m taking 24 credits right now,” she said. “I like to push myself. This is the biggest course load I’ve ever taken on.”
After graduation, Gugliotti wants to use both of her degrees to eventually work in audio electronics and make music. She also sees her education as beneficial to a hobby or side job in the future.
“I would like to explore all my options with my degrees. There are so many different fields in electronics and I’m not sure what my niche is yet,” she said. “I do know that I enjoy the hands-on aspect of EET and want a hands-on job, not a desk job.”
Along the way, she has received encouragement and helpful advice from professors, coworkers and mentors in her field.
“I used to work as an operator for a semiconductor manufacturer, and the engineers there encouraged me to keep going. They helped me with questions on my assignments and answered any questions I had regarding the electronics field,” Gugliotti said. “And it was a group of women engineers that I’m involved in that encouraged me to apply for a position at i2M, which led to me getting my internship there.”
To other females interested in studying STEM fields, Gugliotti encourages them to follow their passions.
“Don’t doubt yourself. If you have the interest, go for it and don’t listen to anybody who tells you that you can’t. If you have the motivation to do it and you think you can do it, you’ll get farther than you think you will,” she said. “And don’t be intimidated. You are still qualified to go to school and learn. That’s the point of college and education: learning about what you enjoy.”