June 06, 2013 12:00AM
For Thomas Hahn, the fall of the Berlin Wall meant more than just the reunification of his native Germany. That momentous occasion also marked the beginning of his pursuit of an American education.
“I had wanted to go to college to study foundry,” Hahn said, “and when the wall came down, I thought it would be a good chance to go the U.S.”
He applied for many schools that were certified by the Foundry Education Foundation, and Pittsburg State University was the first to respond.
“That’s when I decided to attend Pittsburg State,” Hahn said. “I was here for two semesters in 1991-1992 before going back to Germany to finish my undergraduate degree in 1993.”
Hahn returned to PSU in 1995 to pursue his master’s degree as part of a graduate assistantship offered to him by the Business Technology Institute. He would later become a member of the PSU technology faculty until 2008, when he decided to return to his native country.
While he’s no longer directly affiliated with Pitt State, Hahn returns every summer for the annual Investment Casting Certification course, which gives industry professionals from around the world a chance to hone their skills in investment casting techniques and processes. Hahn teaches two sessions during the course.
“It’s a great program because it’s very hands-on,” Hahn said. “This Kansas Technology Center wasn’t here when I was a student, but I sure wish it was. I’ve never seen a school that is so well-equipped with industry-level machinery. Pitt State seems to have it all in this facility.”
Hahn said he enjoys returning to PSU for the course.
“I don’t make it back to the U.S. very often, but I always make sure to come for this course,” he said. “I enjoy seeing and working with the industry professionals, and I also like coming back to Pitt State and seeing the campus.”
During his time at PSU, Hahn was instrumental in developing an exchange program between PSU and TU Bergakademie Freiberg in Germany, where he received his undergraduate degree. He also led several student trips to Germany to expose PSU students to Germany’s mechanical and manufacturing operations.
“I think it’s very important for students to see different cultures, and it was a lot of fun leading those trips,” he said.
Though he lives thousands of miles away, Hahn said he still keeps tabs on his friends in Gorilla Nation.
“I get online a lot and see what Pitt State is up to,” Hahn said. “Pitt State means a lot to me.”