Innovative lab opened
University, college, and community leaders gathered at Penn State Behrend recently to officially open a lab unlike any other. Innovation Commons is an idea laboratory, maker space, technology playground, legal office, marketing agency, and entrepreneurs’ gathering spot in Burke Center designed to support small businesses and start-ups.
The lab, equipped with resources like AutoCAD modeling programs, scanners, and 3D printers for prototyping, was funded in part by a $50,000 Invent Penn State seed grant. Invent Penn State is an initiative to leverage the University’s research, knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit in order to drive job creation, economic development, and student career success.
“Penn State is developing a culture that encourages, nurtures, and rewards entrepreneurship,” Penn State President Eric Barron said. “This facility will expand the college’s strong and close ties to business partners and the local community and promote economic development and entrepreneurship across the Erie region. It will inspire and support the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit we need in the emerging economy.”
Innovation Commons also is part of a $1.5 million Ignite Erie job creation initiative, a partnership of Penn State Behrend, Mercyhurst University, and the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority. The cooperative approach to funding and operating the lab reflects its potential as a business resource for the entire Erie region.
New residence hall to be built
Penn State’s Board of Trustees has appointed a design firm for a $25 million, 250-bed residence hall at the college. The building, Trippe Hall, to be located near Ohio Hall, at the southwestern corner of campus, is scheduled to open at the start of the fall 2018 semester.
A portion of Trippe will be designated for use by students in the Black School of Business. The building’s common areas will be designed and equipped to support entrepreneurial and collaborative student projects.
“Those common areas will facilitate interaction among students from different business disciplines,” said Dr. Balaji Rajagopalan, director of the Black School of Business.
Ongoing, all-hours interaction can be of particular benefit to students with an interest in international business, said Dr. Ken Miller, senior director of campus planning and student affairs.
“We want to create a living-learning environment where students from the Black School who have an interest in international travel can come together,” Miller said. “When students of different cultures engage with one another on a day-to-day basis, they are far better prepared to work in integrated global settings.”
Black School of Business provides data, analysis to Erie Vital Signs project
The Economic Research Institute of Erie (ERIE), a research center of the Black School of Business, has established an innovative collaborative relationship with the Erie Community Foundation to provide data and analysis for Erie Vital Signs, a benchmarking program that tracks the region’s performance in key areas, including the economy, cultural vitality, civic engagement, education, and regional cooperation.
Dr. Ken Louie, associate professor of economics at Penn State Behrend and director of ERIE, will provide much of the analysis, which will be based on employment rates, home ownership rates, health costs and crime reports, among other measures.
“We want our local decision-makers to have the info to base their decisions on facts,” he said. “Each of the areas we study has a ton of data – measurement statistics with multiple dimensions. Our job is to sort through that data, update the statistics on an ongoing basis, provide analysis to determine patterns and identify the emerging trends. That will help focus discussions of where Erie is headed.”
Dr. Jim Kurre, director emeritus of ERIE, also will provide analysis. He and Louie will offer community presentations regularly, discussing economic trends with elected officials, donors and other interested groups.
Future doctors take first stitches
Suturing is a skill that few students have the opportunity to practice before entering medical school.
But thanks to the U.S. Army and Penn State Behrend’s Pre-Health Professions program, nearly thirty undergraduate students from four area universities were able to try three types of basic stitches— simple interrupted, running, and mattress.
Students work on severed pig’s feet at a two-hour suturing seminar offered by the Army Health Care Recruiting office in Pittsburgh and held at Penn State Behrend.
Building a better microscope
The college has used a $175,000 grant from the Hirtzel Foundation and the Lake Erie Research Institute to upgrade its confocal microscope, which uses fluorescence and a spatial pinhole to focus on materials at the cellular level. A laser and camera have been added to the microscope, which is housed in the School of Science.
Confocal microscopes allow researchers to build and rotate vivid 3D images of microscopic materials, including brain cells and the biofilms on bacteria. The college’s equipment is the only setup of its kind in northwestern Pennsylvania; it is used not only by faculty members at Penn State Behrend—including James Warren, associate professor of biology—but also by researchers at Gannon University, Allegheny College, UPMC Hamot, and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Engineering programs reaccredited
Four Penn State Behrend engineering programs—electrical, computer, mechanical, and software engineering—have been reaccredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, the recognized accreditor of university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology.
ABET accreditation is a voluntary peer-review process that evaluates program curricula, faculty expertise, facilities, institutional support, and other factors.
Many employers, including the federal government, require a diploma from an ABET-accredited program for employment in certain technical fields. Industry licensing and certification groups also use ABET standards to screen applicants.
The college’s engineering technology programs also hold accreditation by ABET.
Women in Engineering celebrates 10 years
More than 165 high school students participated in Women in Engineering Day at Penn State Behrend this fall. It was the tenth year for the event, which is designed to introduce high school girls to engineering fields and careers through a series of hands-on activities.
Students from just one high school attended Women in Engineering Day in its first year. Now, the outreach effort has grown to host as many as 30 schools annually.
“There are many instances where young women do not go into the field of engineering because they do not understand what it is or what engineers do,” said Melanie Ford, director of Youth Education Outreach and the Engineering K-12 Outreach Center and lecturer in computer science and software engineering. “By introducing these high school girls to professional women engineers, we are showing them different career options. The girls also have the opportunity to meet great role models and mentors who can make an impact on their lives in the future.”
Master’s in Applied Clinical Psychology added
Applications now are being accepted for the college’s newest graduate degree, the Master of Arts in Applied Clinical Psychology.
The 48-credit program emphasizes study of the scientific bases of behavior and broad training in empirically supported clinical assessment and treatment. In addition to traditional classroom learning, the program includes a practicum, supervised internship experience, and submission of a master’s research paper. An additional 12-credit graduate certificate offers the academic preparation required to become a licensed professional counselor in Pennsylvania and many other states.
“The M.A. prepares students to work as mental health professionals in a variety of settings, including hospitals, counseling centers, nonprofit agencies, schools, and prisons,” said Dr. Melanie Hetzel- Riggin, associate professor of psychology and coordinator of the new program. “It’s also excellent preparation for further study at the doctoral level. With the addition of the graduate certificate and professional counselor licensure, graduates will have the ability to even open their own practice.”
The first Applied Clinical Psychology students will begin in August. Admission to the program requires completion of a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 or better gradepoint average and course work in statistics and psychological research methods.
For more information, contact Ann Burbules in the Office of Graduate Admissions at [email protected].