How a Navy vet and a NASA intern are launching tech careers at Villanova University - Philly

Professional Development

Jun. 27, 2017 8:08 am

How a Navy vet and a NASA intern are launching tech careers at Villanova University

Tyler Von Pein and Stephen Werpehowski took advantage of Villanova's College of Professional Studies, which offers courses that adapt to industry trends.
Launch a career in tech with Villanova University’s College of Professional Studies.

Launch a career in tech with Villanova University's College of Professional Studies.

(Courtesy photo)

Editor's note: This article was updated due to program changes.
After serving in the United States Navy, Tyler Von Pein was ready for a change in careers.

Thirsting for an academic challenge, the veteran from Oakland, Calif., was accepted into Villanova University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS). He chose Information Systems as his major and enrolled in a new course on “software automation” in Spring Semester 2017.

Von Pein was drawn to automation for its increasing prevalence in an ever-changing economy, and he found himself immersed in the industry almost immediately. Before the end of his very first semester, the veteran had already visited the campuses of several automation companies and seen their latest test models at work.

As a first year student, Von Pein has already interacted with important leaders in his industry.

Every university has an obligation to properly equip students with the skills required to compete in the workforce, thrive in their respective careers and, subsequently, contribute to the progress of a world economy increasingly reliant on a new, tech-savvy type of worker.

Tyler Von Pein. (Courtesy photo)

That includes the education of working adults who are looking to transition into lasting careers in emerging tech fields while balancing their everyday responsibilities. Assistant Dean Sandy Kearney knows firsthand how difficult that process can be.

The Air Force veteran was deployed in the Middle East when she made the transition from pilot to technologist.

“Nothing is a straight line” when it comes to adapting to a new career, Kearney said. “The relationships are the key piece.”

Relationships are where CPS thrives. More than just skills, the school gives students an “entry point” for a successful career through an interactive curriculum and, most importantly, the support of a professional community of experts and educators.


Just ask Information Systems student Stephen Werpehowski, a computer scientist who recently won Villanova’s 2017 Meyer Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneur (ICE) Award for his work with Google Glass.

The type of education CPS offers, Werpehowski said, “results in a type of atmosphere more conducive to learning and helps to establish authentic relationships among students.”

Stephen Werpehowski. (Courtesy photo)

The summer before his sophomore year, Werpehowski learned about Information Systems, which quickly opened his mind to the world of IT. He soon rushed to his advisor’s office to switch majors.

Since then, he’s interned for NASA, served as a Teacher’s Assistant as an undergraduate, developed a wearable eye tracking system for human-robot interaction (funded by a Google grant, by the way) and became a finalist for the Fulbright program.

As he prepares for an interview with Facebook, he’s not limiting his options: His eyes are also on Google, Dropbox, Square, and NASA’s Ames Research Center as potential employers.

For Von Pein, that destination is a career in automation, and he’s heading in the right direction.

“It was cool talking to the heads of industries,” he adds. “And our instructor, who has been in the field for a while, was able to give us a practical education as well as a theoretical one.”

After all, relationships are what turn an education into a lifelong career.

“It’s a community effort,” said Kearney. “That’s a huge differentiator.”

CPS is planning on expanding their technology-oriented course offerings. Click on the link below and be the first to know when to apply.

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