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New scholarship shines light on career possibility

Students have access to world of opportunities, thanks to donors

Benjamin P. Obrist '19
Benjamin P. Obrist '19. Photography: Jonathan Cohen.

If heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) is going to become the next hot (or cool) career field, it’s because of people like Benjamin P. Obrist ’19. The mechanical engineering graduate is the inaugural recipient of the Southern Tier of New York Mechanical Contractors Association (STNY MCA) Scholarship.

Obrist was selected for his stellar academic record and involvement with the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) student chapter. He joined shortly after arriving at Binghamton University, was project lead as a junior and served as president during his senior year.

“What appealed to me was that [mechanical contracting] is a mix of technical skills, and it’s a people business,” Obrist said. “You won’t be behind a desk all day. You’ll be on site, helping people.”

STNY MCA established Binghamton’s student chapter in 2013, the first and only in New York state. The club exposes students to opportunities in the mechanical construction side of engineering.

“Our local members have hired students for internships and we, as an organization, would love to be able to hire some of these students for jobs locally or throughout the state,” said Robert Hall, STNY MCA executive director. “Having established the chapter, it was a perfect fit for us to help the engineering students through scholarships.”

Obrist wants to go into building-system engineering, which encompasses HVAC and plumbing systems. Though the scholarship made his education more affordable, he said its larger impact is the increased visibility for a pathway many aspiring engineers overlook.

“A lot of mechanical engineering students are focused on product design,” Obrist said. “They want to build a car or a rocket ship. They pass up mechanical contracting because it’s not the most technical discipline. This scholarship will enable our club to grow, and students will recognize this field as something they can pursue.”

There is no better way to promote the opportunities of the mechanical trades in our area than by supporting our student chapter and the Watson School.

— Robert Hall, executive director of the Southern Tier of New York Mechanical Contractors Association