Avery Fordham had already earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Juniata College and an M.S. in Chemistry from University of California, Irvine when he enrolled in the Scientific Glass Technology program at SCC in 2018.
While at Juniata, he became interested in glass. “I was exposed to some really intricate pieces of laboratory glassware and I would always try to figure out what the apparatus was used for if I didn't already know,” said Avery, who grew up in Clarks Summit, PA, “I then took an introductory course on scientific glassblowing that Juniata offered.”
He discovered SCC in an Internet search which led him to consult with an SCC glass graduate. “Google is a beautiful thing. I also emailed Aaron Babino, who is the glassblower for Washington State University and an SCC alumnus, a bunch of questions asking about his current work and the program at SCC,” said Avery.
SCC’s glass faculty and staff – particularly Bob Russell, Doug Ohm and Kristin Deady -- were strong influences. “Not only did I learn the basics of fabricating laboratory glassware, I gained a diverse knowledge base on glass as a material and an artistic medium,” said Avery, who was awarded the Sol & Jean Davidow Scholarship and the Robert M Minkoff Scholarship, and performed work-study at the Glass Education Center (GEC).
Upon graduating with high honors with an Associate in Applied Science degree, he left for the Midwest and took his dry wit with him. “I was hired by Kent State University where I continued breaking glass while also having the opportunity to break various electronics and laboratory equipment,” said Avery, who’s a Research Engineer II.
“Without being able to blow glass, I wouldn't have come close to landing this position,” he said. “I repair and fabricate glass apparatus for researchers and laboratory classes. I also help maintain scientific instrumentation and laboratory equipment.”
What does Avery look forward to the most each day? “Every day is a grand, new adventure so each day is vastly different from the next,” he said. “Usually though, I am always excited to light the torch and see what new bounds I can push myself to.”
The SCC graduate encourages students to take advantage of the GEC’s resources. “Even if you have your own shop, spend the time there. You've already paid for it, so you might as well get the added benefit of highly experienced glassblowers that are always there.”