Pat Vernon


“Over the years, I taught many wonderful, smart and good kids.”


In his 35 years in technology education—34 of those at State High—Pat Vernon has seen and taught through a lot of changes, as you’d imagine. “There certainly was a lot of progression in technology. It was an exciting time,” he said. “It still is!”


Pat grew up in Pittsburgh and attended Penn State McKeesport for a year before transferring to University Park. He spent three years studying architecture, then took a break to work and earn some money. When he returned to University Park, his neighbor, Dr. Schmick, a Penn State professor invited him to visit his technology education lab. The visit piqued his interest, and he switched his major to technology education. He married his wife Elizabeth (Betsy) in 1972, a year before graduating from Penn State.


Pat’s first year of teaching, he taught drafting and plastics at Tyrone High School. “They had received a large grant that allowed the school to purchase some cutting-edge equipment for plastics production,” he said. “At the time, no one else in Pennsylvania had a lab like it.”


The following year he was hired at State High by Carl Weaver, head of the technology education department. For ten years, he taught wood and metal manufacturing, then switched to teaching drafting and design until he retired in 2009.



“Of course, we rewrote the curriculum as technology changed—for computer graphics and 3D printing,” he said. One highlight of his time at State High is advising the Technology Student Association, a club started by the students. “The students chose the name for the club well before the TSA—Transportation Security Administration—was formed. But, one year, we were taking the kids on a flight to a competition. At the airport, they were all wearing their club tee shirts with the initials TSA. Some of the U.S. Marshals approached us to ask if they were making fun of the other TSA,” he said.


Pat recalled the first student in the club, Pat Maggi, earned second place in a technology contest and was contacted by State College-based Cannon Instruments who hired him for the summer. “Pat ended up teaching some of Cannon’s staff how to operate the CAD program,” he said. Maggi went to Penn State and later went to work for Cannon where he rose through the ranks from development engineer to CEO, a role he held for 19 years. In 2021, he became Chief Technology Officer for Cannon’s parent company Arthur H. Thomas Company. 


“Over the years, I taught many wonderful, smart and good kids,” Pat said.


Since he retired, Pat and Betsy have continued to follow a shared passion for travel. “For our honeymoon, we campus in Maroon Bells, Colorado, and later, we traveled across the country by bus,” he said. “When our sons Ryan and Ian were 5 and 2, I restored an old motorhome I found in a scrapyard and we drove it 15,000 miles on an exciting adventure around the country—down the East Coast, across the Gulf Coast, into Mexico and up the West Coast to British Columbia.”


Pat and Betsy have been to all 50 states and 45 countries. While Pat has trouble choosing a favorite spot in the U.S., Bologna, Italy, stands out from their international travels. “It’s the food capital of the world and home to the first university, which has 90,000 undergraduates today,” he said.  


Both of Pat and Betsy’s sons graduated from State High. Ryan studied at Virginia Tech and is now a design engineer for Google. Ian studied at IUP and Penn State and worked in real estate law before following his passion into the culinary world. He started Home Frite, a small French fry cart, and grew it into a successful full-service restaurant, which he’s now franchising.


Pat’s advice for today’s students?  You guessed it. “Travel. Go out and see the world, especially faraway places like New Zealand. Don’t spend all your time wondering what you’re going to do with your life.”

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