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Press Release



April 19, 2005

Cowley NDT graduate named technician of year


Like a lot of students graduating high school, Paul Petersen didn’t know which direction to take.

The 1995 Arkansas City High School graduate tinkered with cars a bit, and he enjoyed music. He was good enough, in fact, to earn an instrumental music scholarship to Cowley College. He played the trumpet in Concert Band and Jazz Band.

From left, Bruce Crouse, chairman of Cowley College's Industrial Technology Department and nondestructive testing instructor; Paul Petersen, a 1997 graduate of Cowley; and Bob Potter, vice president of operations at Metal Finishing Co., Inc., in Wichita.

But it was a chance meeting with Cowley Nondestructive Testing Instructor Bruce Crouse that steered Petersen toward a career as an NDT inspector.

Now, eight years after graduating from Cowley with an associate of applied science degree in NDT, Petersen has earned the Lou Di Valerio Technician of the Year Award presented by The American Society for Nondestructive Testing. He will officially receive the citation at ASNT’s fall conference in Columbus, Ohio, in October.

“They look for someone who is not in management, who does inspections,” said Petersen, a lead inspector at Metal Finishing Co., Inc., in Wichita. “There’s never a dull moment in this job. There’s always something new. I’ve inspected everything from Corvette parts to space shuttle parts to oil derricks and amusement park rides.”

The award gives recognition to ASNT members who are deserving technicians, encouraging their continued participation in the Society. The award is presented to individuals who have distinguished themselves by showing exceptional merit, either as an NDT technician or through service to the Society.

Petersen’s meeting with Crouse back in 1995 was coincidental.

“I was a trumpet player at Arkansas City High School,” Petersen said. “Gary Gackstatter, who had been my director, came here to Cowley my senior year. Gary called me and said he had a kid he wanted me to give trumpet lessons.”

That aspiring trumpet player was Jon Crouse, Bruce’s son.

“I came here (to the Walker Industrial Technology Building) to pick him up or something, and I started asking questions,” Petersen said. “What is all of this?”

After more discussion with Bruce Crouse, Petersen enrolled in Cowley’s NDT program. His mornings were spent in NDT classes, and his afternoons in Concert Band and Jazz Band.

Petersen, the son of Gary and Alice Petersen of Arkansas City, lives in Wellington. It wasn’t long ago that he found out his late grandfather, Raymond Petersen, had been a penetrant inspector at General Electric’s Aircraft Engine Maintenance Center at Strother Field.

Petersen was nominated for the award by Bob Potter, vice president of operations at Metal Finishing, and by the Air Capital Section of ASNT. A nominee’s application is evaluated by the Technician of the Year Award Subcommittee and approved by the Section Operations Council Awards Division.

Petersen and Potter serve on Bruce Crouse’s NDT advisory committee, which held its spring meeting Monday night.

Petersen said Cowley’s NDT program prepared him well for his career.

“Coming here, I didn’t know anything about it,” he said. “I remember hours and hours of overheads. It did give me a good base working knowledge of the process.”

Petersen said that while the different types of inspections haven’t changed much, computer software and the emerging digital world have changed the industry.

Petersen praised Crouse as an instructor.

“He knows a lot about it, and he’s very patient,” Petersen said. “There is no stupid question.”