Graduating with a good job is every college student’s dream, and Chase Skibitsky just made his come true. The new graduate of Palm Beach State College’s Engineering Technology program will cross the stage at Grad Walk Dec. 12 and three weeks later walk into his new job at Dynamic Engineering Consultants, PC. He starts his new position as a CAD designer Jan. 3 at the company’s office in Chester, New Jersey.
“I’m very excited. I’ve been working very hard for this moment, so I’m carefree right now,” Skibitsky said.
Carefree because after working different full-time jobs, including as a waiter, and going to school part time, he’s earned an Associate in Science degree that opened the door to the new career he envisioned. Before starting the Engineering Technology program in 2016, Skibitsky, 25, had never used AutoCAD, the leading computer-aided design and drafting software application.
His perseverance—and affinity for AutoCAD—has paid off for the College as well as himself. He built his AutoCAD expertise throughout his time at PBSC, but his capstone project put his skills to use in a way that will help PBSC prepare for and prevent damage from tropical storms and hurricanes.
The project grew out of a college-based mentorship with Bob Priolo, PBSC’s facilities director. A professional engineer, he had volunteered to work with the Engineering Technology students.
Coincidently, Priolo was embarking on the annual FEMA requirement to do a pre-hurricane conditions survey of each campus. His team usually goes around with cameras or shoots video, but the use of drones is becoming increasingly popular. He mentioned to Skibitsky that aerial mapping of the campuses was a real need for his department, and Skibitsky took the project and ran with it.
“I was just very impressed with Chase’s ability to listen but then also provide good ideas and follow through,” Priolo said. “He literally made it happen, and that proactive thinking is going to take him a long way. He’s a super young man.”
The project was also an opportunity to involve KEITH, the Pompano Beach-based firm offering civil engineering and surveying services, where Skibitsky was doing a paid internship. KEITH had recently acquired a surveying drone and wanted to test it. Working with drone pilot Pablo Dominguez, a senior surveyor technician III at KEITH, Skibitsky got aerial photos of the Boca Raton campus and then used the photos to make models and maps in AutoCAD, which formed the basis of his FEMA analysis. Skibitsky identified multiple issues with campus roofs, overgrown vegetation and other factors that indicate vulnerability to flooding and storm damage, and he suggested ways to mitigate impact.
Given the project’s success and the valuable information gained, Priolo wants to do such drone surveys for every campus.
Skibitsky presented his work at the Engineering Technology Capstone Project Presentation and Expo on Dec. 2 at the Palm Beach Gardens campus.
“Without Mr. Priolo, I wouldn’t have gotten the clarity that I needed to present the project in a manner that would make sense to outside viewers,” Skibitsky said. “He was a tremendous help for me. I wouldn’t have been able to do this project without him.”
Always good in math and science, Skibitsky knew by the sixth grade that he wanted a STEM career. Originally from Illinois, he did two years at The College of New Jersey before moving to Florida.
“I wanted to go to school here and go the community college route because I didn’t want to put myself in massive amounts of debt,” Skibitsky said. “I wanted to be able to pay for my education out of my own pocket.”
PBSC’s Engineering Technology A.S. degree program with a concentration in Advanced Technology ended up being a very good fit for him.
“I think my absolute favorite part about the program at Palm Beach State was my professors, especially Professor Suarez and Professor Andric,” Skibitsky said. “They both influenced me very much. They’re both very intelligent individuals and they’re no-nonsense. I feel I am very well prepared for real-world jobs like the one that I’ve gotten. Also, the Palm Beach Gardens facility is awesome, and they have a lot of cool technology currently used in industry—so that’s a huge plus in the program and helped me in my job search.”
Professor Eva Suarez, department chair for Engineering Technology, taught Skibitsky from the time he entered the program and witnessed his progress and achievements firsthand.
“Chase is leaving this campus with a purpose,” Suarez said. “He knows what he wants to do. He has drive and determination. He grew in his self-confidence, as well as his knowledge, and he’s now ready to go forward and become a great engineering technologist. He is definitely a success story.”