In Brief

Ann K. Scott, recently retired community outreach manager for Erie Insurance Group, is the recipient of the inaugural Mary Behrend Impact Award, presented by Penn State Behrend’s Women’s Engagement Council (WEC).

Ann K. Scott, recently retired community outreach manager for Erie Insurance Group, is the recipient of the inaugural Mary Behrend Impact Award, presented by Penn State Behrend’s Women’s Engagement Council (WEC).

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Ann Scott Presented with Mary Behrend Impact Award

Ann K. Scott, recently retired community outreach manag­er for Erie Insurance Group, is the recipient of the inaugural Mary Behrend Impact Award, presented by Penn State Behrend’s Women’s Engage­ment Council (WEC).

The award was established to recognize individuals who have made significant contri­butions, directly or indirectly, to advance the purpose of WEC, namely to support and lift women by supporting programs related to women, to the college, and to the greater Erie community. Scott was honored with the award at a luncheon in Behrend’s Lilley Library in March.

“Ann’s professional accomplishments, personal philanthropic commitment, and dedication to student mentorship exemplify the spirit of Mary Behrend,” said Priscilla Hamilton ’73, a WEC board member who chaired the award committee. “Her contributions reflect Mary’s spirit of generosity, which created Penn State Behrend.”

Scott earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication from Behrend in 1982 and an MBA from the college’s Black School of Business in 1999. She joined Erie Insurance in 1982 and before her retirement in May, managed a philanthropic budget of nearly $5 million and led charitable giving and community outreach efforts through Erie Insurance’s Giving Network.

Scott is the chair of Behrend’s Council of Fellows, the first woman to hold that position. She also served previously as an executive-in-residence for the Black School of Business. She has been honored by the Boys & Girls Club of Erie for her integrity and impact on the community, and in 2012, she was recognized as a Woman Making History by the Mercy Center for Women, for her support of women and young people.

“I’m honored to be counted among the many strong, kind, and influential women in the Behrend community, including the remarkable Mary Behrend who began it all,” Scott said.

Mid-Career Switcheroo?

A college degree prepares you not just for your chosen discipline, but for a lot of other paths you might take as well. Did you make a major career change after the age of 40? Behrend Magazine would love to hear about it. What were you doing? Why did you decide to change lanes? How did you make the switch, and how is it going now? Email [email protected]. Be sure to include your graduation year and degree. Photos are encouraged!

New Functional Data Analytics Program Offered Through World Campus

As the management and use of data continues to grow in importance in our society, professionals who are fluent in data analytics are becoming more and more in demand. Positions in the data analysis field are expected to grow 36 percent between 2021 and 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To help meet that need, Penn State Behrend is now offering a new 122-credit under­graduate degree program online through World Campus that combines communications, problem-solving, and technology to prepare students for data analytics work in the professional world. The program will also be offered in person at Behrend beginning in the fall of 2024.

The program aims to prepare students with interdisciplinary skills in math, science, communication, and computers to understand and present data in written, visual, and spoken formats. The program centers around core data concepts and techniques and allows students to customize their applied learning paths through concentrations and a two-semester capstone project.

Students will be taught by faculty from all four of Behrend’s academic schools: Black School of Business, Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Science.

Project RESOLVE Strategy Advances

As part of its land-grant mission, Penn State Behrend has long been a driver of economic development in the Erie region. Our newest initia­tive, Project RESOLVE, represents the most visionary effort yet to strengthen the competitiveness of Erie’s manufacturing base.

The project centers on a strategy for shifting the region’s plastics, metal-casting, and transportation industries to a circular economic model to address plastics and waste pollution that ultimately affects the health of freshwater sources such as Lake Erie. Compa­nies in these three sectors repre­sent 17 percent of all manufacturing jobs in the Erie region.

Project RESOLVE was proposed by Behrend at the encouragement of Erie County Council as a task force of Council members and community leaders was developing a framework for allocation of Ameri­can Rescue Plan (ARP) funds.

“The challenge was to identify a project that could create a multiplier effect, catapulting the economy forward,” said Dr. Amy Bridger, senior director of corporate strategy and external engagement. “Project RESOLVE builds on our decades of experience engaging with business, industry and community partners. Leading a coalition of about 80 partners, we envision this effort will transform a significant portion of our local manufacturing sector.”

With funding from Erie County and Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) and an investment by Penn State, the first phase of the project—the construction of a Center for Man­ufacturing Competitiveness—has begun. The center, to be located in Penn State Behrend’s Knowl­edge Park, will include plastics and metal-casting research labs and a heavy-haul battery testing facility. Learn more about Project RESOLVE.

Chancellor Ralph Ford with Nicole (Frisbee) Gailey ’10.

Chancellor Ralph Ford with Nicole (Frisbee) Gailey ’10.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Behrend Alumna Honored With Award

Nicole (Frisbee) Gailey ’10 was chosen to receive one of seven Penn State Alumni Achievement Awards for 2023. The award recognizes alumni thirty-five years of age and younger for outstanding professional accomplishments.

Gailey is the director of R&D and Innovation PMO Americas for Trivium Packaging, focusing on the next generation of metal packaging solutions. She and her team are charged with discov­ering, evaluating, and designing new technologies, materials and graphics that can lead to developing new products, improving existing products, and furthering product differentiation.

Before working in the packaging industry, Gailey held roles in engineering design, measurement and integrity, technical project management, operational excellence, and quality for TechnipFMC (formerly FMC Technologies).

“We are proud to see Nicole recognized for her achieve­ments,” said Behrend Chancellor Ralph Ford. “She epitomizes everything we envision in a Behrend graduate—not only successful and passionate in her career, but also committed to lifelong learning and giving back to her community.”

Gailey graduated from Penn State Behrend with a degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in operations and supply chain management. She earned a master’s degree in engineering management from Gannon University, where she is currently pursuing a doctorate in organizational learning and leadership. A standout soccer player at Behrend, she was inducted into the Penn State Behrend Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019.

Since 2005, about 100 accomplished young alumni—ten of them Penn State Behrend graduates—have received the Alumni Achievement Award.

New public shows at Yahn Planetarium

Yahn Planetarium in Penn State Behrend’s Science Complex has new public show hours on Saturdays: a 10:00 a.m. childrens’ show, and an 11:30 a.m. show for general audiences. Admission fees are $5 for adults, $3 for kids ages 12 and under. Penn State employees, students, and all children under age 2 are free.

Have a group—school, hobby, social—that wants to visit the planetarium? You can schedule a private showing and choose from a large catalog of presentations.

Visit the Yahn Planetarium website or call 814-898-7268 for show descriptions and ticket information.

In Memoriam

David Grzelak

David Grzelak

Credit: Penn State Behrend

David Grzelak, retired chairman and CEO of Komatsu America Corpo­ration who was closely connected to Penn State Behrend, died Monday, December 26, 2022.

He was 73.

Grzelak began his academic career at Behrend, earning his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering at University Park in 1971. As a student at Behrend, he was a standout tennis player, recognized by his induction into Behrend’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992.

Grzelak was a recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus Award from Penn State and the Alumni Fellow Award, the highest recognition given by the Penn State Alumni Association. He served as a member and director of Behrend’s Council of Fellows.

When Grzelak retired from Komatsu America in 2013, he did so with the distinction of being the longest-serving chairman and CEO in the company’s history.

Dr. Gary Lyons, retired Erie cardiovascular surgeon and longstanding friend of Penn State Behrend, died February 11, at 88.

Lyons began his college education at Penn State Behrend, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine from University Park in 1956. He subsequently earned his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh Medical School and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. In the early 1970s, he established the open-heart program at Erie’s Saint Vincent Health Center and served for many years as the hospital’s chief of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery.

Lyons was a recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Penn State and the Alumni Fellow Award, the highest honor given by the Penn State Alumni Association.

Dr. Bruce Wittmershaus

Dr. Bruce Wittmershaus

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Dr. Bruce Wittmershaus, an associate professor emeritus of physics, died March 30 while traveling with his wife, Janice, in Cuba. He was 66.

Wittmershaus earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Franklin & Marshall College and a doctorate from the University of Rochester. He joined Behrend in 1995 and was a cornerstone of the physics program, helping guide its development through the years.

In the classroom, Wittmershaus had a reputation for patience, fairness, and kindness. He was also an accom­plished researcher. Among his faculty colleagues, Witt­mershaus was well respected, serving as a mentor and role model, according to Dr. Marty Kociolek, director of the School of Science. His positive attitude and pleasant demeanor were inspiring to the Behrend community.

Jon Meckley

Jon Meckley

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Jon Meckley, associate professor emeritus of engineering in plastics engineering technology, died at his home on April 1. He was 63.

Meckley had a long his­tory with Behrend, first as a student and then as a faculty member, before retiring in 2022. He earned both an associate degree in Mechan­ical Engineering Technology and bachelor’s degrees in MET and PLET from Behrend, before earning a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts.

For more than two decades, Meckley organized and led international trips for PLET majors to many coun­tries. He was hardworking but also fun-loving. As much as he enjoyed a good practical joke, he was serious about student success, leaving an indelible mark on scores of PLET students he helped guide to success.