Charles Eberhardt, '71

Believes in education and lifelong learning

It’s all a learning experience. Some people hate classes, but as long as you are learning, that’s a beautiful thing. Sometimes learning was not meant to be easy." ~ Charles Eberhardt

In 1971, Charles Eberhardt became a member of the second graduating class from Terra State Community College, then known as Vanguard Technical Institute, by earning an Associate of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering. “I lived in Fremont and the College was local,” recalls the Fremont Ross graduate. “I was always driven to be in a science field. Growing up in Kansas, my father worked in the oil fields at one time. This led me at one time to be a geologist.

“Then, I discovered that I was pretty good at drawing and decided I wanted to be an architect,” Eberhardt continues. “So, there was Terra State with mechanical engineering. I decided to get a two-year degree and see where that takes me.”

When Eberhardt began his studies, there were only night classes offered at Vanguard Vocational School. “I went to class full time at night and worked at Foodtown during the day,” Eberhardt says. “I didn’t have the money to pay tuition up front. Lyle Smith worked up an agreement where every week I would pay an installment on my tuition. It was actions like that which got me started in higher education.”

While attending classes at Vanguard, Eberhardt did not have one favorite class in particular. He liked them all. “It’s all a learning experience. Some people hate classes, but as long as you are learning, that’s a beautiful thing. Sometimes learning was not meant to be easy.”

After graduating with his degree, Eberhardt worked for about a year for the Fremont City Engineer’s office. He then joined the Marine Corps Reserve. After his active duty, Eberhardt returned home. “Because of my degree from Terra State, I got a job at Ohio Road Paving. They are an asphalt company.” He drew air pollution systems to retrofit the company’s existing asphalt plants.

Eberhardt worked for Ohio Road Paving for about seven years when he approached the president and asked if he quit and went back to school would the company would hire him back in the summer. With no guarantee from the president, Eberhardt left Ohio Road Paving and enrolled at the University of Toledo to study civil engineering. He took classes for four years before he graduated. “At that time, most of my classes from Terra State transferred. I went for four years, even though those credits transferred. I took additional courses while there,” Eberhardt says. And, yes, Ohio Road Paving hired him back for each summer.


Eberhardt worked for Ohio Road Paving for a year after he finished at the University of Toledo. He left after the president retired. He spent the next thirty-two years at the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and worked in various areas there, including construction, maintenance, production and planning. In 2012, Eberhardt retired from ODOT.

In his retirement, Eberhardt has spent much time serving on different boards, including the Terra College Foundation Board of Trustees. “I am a believer in education. I believe in Terra State as a two-year college. We don’t necessarily need Ph.D.’s. We need hands-on type people,” Eberhardt says. “We need people for the things we are going to build in the future.”

Even though Eberhardt is enjoying retirement, he may not be completely done with his education. He is considering taking more classes at Terra State. “I’m looking at website development. This would allow me to assist other groups that I belong to,” he says. “Maybe I can help offer a service where they do not have to go out and hire a web designer.” Whatever else Eberhardt chooses to do in retirement, it most certainly will involve the opportunity for him to continue to be a lifelong learner.