WILLIAMSPORT — One is a bit shy, grew up 20 minutes from Pennsylvania College of Technology and studied information technology. The other is outgoing, was raised in Pennsylvania Dutch Country and chose electronics.
Their paths didn’t cross while attending Penn College, but Matthew A. Bamonte and Jiovanni N. Rosario are kindred spirits, thanks to their roles within Amazon Inc. Bamonte is a learning experience designer for Amazon Robotics in North Reading, Mass., and Rosario works as a control projects engineer for Amazon Web Services in northern Virginia.
“The thing I love most about working for Amazon Robotics is that I’m part of a team that helps make other people’s jobs easier and allows our customers to get their packages faster,” said Bamonte, who graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in game and simulation programming and a minor in math.
“What gives me the most satisfaction is when family and friends tell me that they use AWS services to support their application,” said Rosario, a 2014 grad with a bachelor’s degree in electronics and computer engineering technology and an associate degree in robotics and automation. “It’s rewarding to know the work I do helps and impacts others.”
Video games had a profound impact on both of them while growing up, Bamonte in Milton and Rosario in Lancaster.
“I played a lot of Doom, which my mother didn’t necessarily approve of, but now that I’m at Amazon, I guess I turned out OK,” Bamonte joked. “Even as a kid, I loved the idea of merging training or learning with video games. I love the concept of using video games, virtual reality and augmented reality to help people learn something new and help them learn it faster.”
In essence, that’s what Bamonte does at Amazon Robotics, which makes the mobile robots that deliver products to human workers in Amazon’s warehouses. In 2019, Amazon revealed that it had over 200,000 robots, called “drive units,” operating in 50 fulfillment centers worldwide.
Bamonte and the Learning and Development team are tasked with creating hardware documentation and maintenance procedures for the drive units, as well as eLearning and training materials for the technicians to work on the robotic technology safely and efficiently.
“No day is ever boring,” Bamonte said. “The biggest challenge that I face is keeping up with the pace and scale of advances in robotics. While I may not be creating the robots, the more that I learn about them and how they work, the better I’ll be able to create helpful training programs.”
Learning fuels Bamonte, according to Anita R. Wood, associate professor of computer information technology at Penn College.
“As a freshman, Matt was quiet, yet over the years, he developed a questioning mindset that served him well,” she said. “Matt is very effective in finding answers to things he does not know. And he is determined to challenge himself to explore areas that he is uncomfortable with.”
The same can be said of Rosario, who credits playing video games on his family’s first desktop computer for sparking his passion for technology. When the computer needed repaired, a technician opened its case and Rosario’s eyes to his eventual career path.
“I could see the electronics that made the machine work,” Rosario said. “I didn’t know what anything was, but I wanted to learn more.”
Rosario did, through an electronics technology program in high school. That prompted him to seek a degree in electronics at Penn College.
“Penn College taught me how to be resourceful and enjoy learning,” he said. “I got frustrated with the professors plenty of times because they wouldn’t help me the first time I asked for support. I now realize they taught me to be resourceful. I learned to dive into the documentation and specs, make a few attempts and then present the situation if I still couldn’t solve the problem.”
Rosario’s attitude impressed Jeffrey L. Rankinen, associate professor of electronics and computer engineering technology.
“Jiovanni was quick to learn new tasks, and he also worked well with other students,” Rankinen said. “He stood out as a student passionate about a future career in technology.”
“At Amazon, ‘Learn and be curious’ is one of our leadership principles,” he said. “I think they hired me because my experience shows that I have embodied that principle throughout my career, thanks to Penn College. Every semester was a chance to get hands on with new technology, solve problems and build interesting projects.”
The appeal of that background for AWS doesn’t surprise Rankinen.
“I’ve spoken with AWS representatives at our Career Fair. They are impressed with the skill set required in our coursework for the electronics and computer engineering technology programs. The skills match what AWS desires,” he said. “The growth in cloud-based computing and storage will mean continued opportunities for our students.”
Bamonte, whose past work includes game designer and instructional developer, also credits his Penn College education for helping him obtain the learning experience designer job at Amazon Robotics about 16 months ago.
“My master’s program (educational/instructional technology at Bloomsburg University) got my foot in the door, but it was definitely my technical background at Penn College that really cemented me as a candidate,” he said. “I remember talking with my future boss about programming and how I was able to create interaction between games I developed with databases. I also created custom web pages for my games. All of those things I learned at Penn College and that experience landed me the position.”
Wood said Bamonte’s position represents the diversity of opportunities awaiting graduates of the game and simulation major. In addition to instilling a tenet of simulation programming – creating an interactive and engaging experience – the program teaches the core concepts of information technology.
“Our students are trained in the skills to design using an agile approach, something industries are highlighting as a preferred job skill,” she said. “We have graduates in a variety of domains, from health to financial and computer software to corporate training.”
While he enjoys his current role, Bamonte said he can envision “returning to his roots” one day and exploring opportunities with one of Amazon’s game development teams. As for Rosario, he’s not sure what’s next, except for trying to be the best at what he does.
“I couldn’t be happier with my experience,” he said. “My manager empowers me to make decisions, learn and experiment.”
The experiences of both Rosario and Bamonte are pleasing to Bradley M. Webb, dean of the School of Engineering Technologies, which includes information technology and electronics.
“At Penn College, students graduate to become ‘tomorrow makers’ in their chosen field of study,” he said. “Matt and Jiovanni’s work at Amazon is indicative of that reality. We are very proud of them for building upon the foundation they established at the college to excel at a corporation that impacts daily life in a multitude of ways.”