Kopera honored for excellence at Tri-County Technical College


Ken Kopera, physical plant director at Tri-County Technical College, has been honored with the highest award given for staff excellence at the College. Kopera, a Powdersville resident, received the Presidential Medallion for Staff Excellence. The medallion, along with a cash award made possible by the Tri-County Technical College Foundation, goes to a person who best exemplifies the College philosophy and has contributed the most during the academic year to the development of the college and its students.

Kopera joined the College in 2000 and is in charge of maintenance and security at all campuses and centers, in addition to overseeing all construction and rehabilitative projects. This year Kopera has focused on several new projects, including overseeing the design, procurement and construction of the Industrial Technology Center (ITC), a $4 million- state-of-the-art welding and heating ventilation and air conditioning training facility set to open in the spring of 2013. The 42,000-square-foot building is located on Highway 76 in Sandy Springs on five acres of land and is just four miles from the Pendleton Campus. Designed to simulate a real-life industrial setting, the structure will use various types of construction techniques in the retrofitting process to be used later as teaching tools in the classroom.

Another ongoing project is the traffic and pedestrian safety improvements which began this month at the Pendleton Campus. This is the first phase of a new Pendleton Campus master plan, developed in 2011 under Kopera’s direction. He also oversaw projects to create a new tutoring center on the Pendleton Campus, relocation of the campus print shop and rehabilitation of the Cleveland Hall roof this summer.

“Most people don’t realize how difficult and complicated these projects are. Given the complexity of state procurement rules and the approvals required to acquire property, sanction new facilities and to develop and manage construction contracts, the amount of planning and inter-agency coordination required to be successful in Ken’s role is incredible,” said Gregg Stapleton, vice president of business affairs at the College.

“Ken has delivered these projects with great attention to quality and cost, usually saving the College money throughout the course of a major facility upgrade or new installation. It’s a sustained effort and requires Ken’s knowledge of state processes as well as construction and project management best practices,” said Stapleton. “He does an outstanding job of getting the best value for the dollars we spend by selecting quality contractors and working with clients and designers to get optimal use of our facilities. He also keeps our aging physical plant in good shape. Ken is simply key to making our campuses a great place to learn for our students and to work for our employees,” he said.

“Ken is in a vital role for the College and handles it well considering all of the challenges he faces which include an ever-changing and expanding campus,” Paul Phelps, welding program coordinator, wrote in his nomination. “Through all of these changes and expansions, the facilities staff has not increased. Yet when there is an issue, even a small one, Ken and his staff respond within a reasonable amount of time. He is one of those guys who is behind the scenes working for the good of the College, making sure students are being provided for in the way of facilities. Unless you have worked with him, you may not even know he is there, but we all see the works of his hand daily in our facilities. In all of my time here, I have not seen Ken without a smile, regardless of the day he may be having,” said Phelps.

Quality and perfection are at the top of Kopera’s agenda, Debbie Norris, accounts payable technician in the Business Affairs Division, wrote in her nomination. “Ken’s involvement is an on-call job and he can be accessed 24 hours a day. Ken is highly respected by the staff and management. I have nothing but praise for Ken in his attitude, work ethic, service and leadership.”

Kopera worked as facility manager at Bic Corp. in Connecticut and the Upstate from 1991 until he joined the College. Prior to that he was maintenance supervisor at Crucible Specialty Metals in Syracuse, N.Y., from 1987 – 91. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. in International Business from the University of New Haven. He and his wife, Lisa, live in Powdersville.