Open Lab: Real-World Experience for Students

Penn State Behrend is an Open Lab. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to learn and grow beyond the classroom.

In Open Lab learning, students engage with external partners in business and industry, non-profit and community organizations, and others. The goal may be to design a new product, develop a new service, address a particular challenge, or improve a process.

Whatever the goal is and whatever form it takes—a research project, an internship, a co-op position—you’ll get career-building, real-world experience working with business, industry, and community partners.

A dog holding a rubber dog toy in its mouth

Developing Dog Toys and More

In our James R. Meehl Innovation Commons, a product design and rapid-prototyping lab, students have contributed to more than 240 projects, including 12 patent applications. Three students developed a new line of rubber dog toys for Jon Meighan, CEO of Lake Erie Rubber. The project was featured on an episode of the Discovery Channel’s “Undercover Billionaire – Comeback City.”

Bicentennial Tower in the City of Erie is pictured at sunset

Designing a New Website

Students in the Black School of Business redesigned the city of Erie’s website, creating a comprehensive digital resource with sections for all municipal departments and services. The new website includes drop-down navigation menus, payment portals for taxes and parking tickets, and a button that translates each page into more than 100 languages. The project saved taxpayers approximately $50,000.

A student works in a lab on campus

Advancing Biofuel Feedstocks

A $1 million investment by HERO BX, a biodiesel company with facilities in Erie, Alabama, and New Hampshire, created a research lab in the Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center, where students work alongside HERO BX chemists to reduce the sulfur in biodiesel feedstocks. The team hopes to make biodiesel more efficient in cold-temperature applications, including commercial aviation.

A student using virtual reality goggles and hand controls

Recreating History with VR Technology

Faculty and students in our Virtual/Augmented Reality Lab have partnered with Erie’s Hagen History Center to create immersive museum exhibits, including a 3D scan of the telescope used by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry during the Battle of Lake Erie. The display provides a better look at the telescope, including the inscription from when it was gifted to William Henry Harrison, the country’s ninth president.