Remembering our past
For the past century, Pennsylvania College of Technology and its predecessors filled a unique position in higher education, focused on applied technology and emerging workforce needs. Throughout 2014, the college invites alumni and the public to join the campus community in celebrating milestones of its first 100 years and exploring the future of technology and society.
The College's foundation was laid in 1914, with the opening of a new Williamsport High School (today's Klump Academic Center), which included a small industrial arts shop that became a home for adult education and training programs. As the high school vocational program grew into the renowned Williamsport Technical Institute (1941), and later Williamsport Area Community College (1965) and Penn College (1989), the institution established itself as a leader in meeting the challenges of a changing workplace.
It first gained national acclaim for partnering with local industries to combat the Great Depression by training the unemployed to fill vacant, skilled positions. Later, classes operated 24 hours a day, providing defense industry training for World War II. Veterans of both world wars, including those who were disabled, were among the first students to benefit from hands-on education at the Williamsport campus.
In the mid-20th century, the institution's scope expanded to include associate degree programming, when it joined the state's community college system. It expanded again a quarter century later when, as a special mission affiliate of The Pennsylvania State University, the College began offering baccalaureate degrees and added on-campus student residences.
Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour said: "Centennial events will honor our founders, our students, our employees, our alumni, and our community. All have helped to build the first 100 years of our history: a legacy that is worthy of reflection and commemoration."
The celebration includes a Centennial Colloquia Series on technology and society, headlined by acclaimed authors Jaron Lanier and Alan Lightman.
Lanier, who will visit March 17, was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2010. As founder of VPL Research, the first company to sell virtual-reality products, he coined the phrase "virtual reality." He is a composer, artist, and author of the bestselling books "Who Owns the Future?" and "You Are Not a Gadget." Lanier's talk, titled "People and Computers: Who's on Top?" will address two common views of technology: Either it serves humanity, or it is coming alive on its own. He will discuss issues involving balancing privacy and security and the potential consequences of positioning machines above humans in these matters.
Lightman, whose Oct. 28 discussion will examine the significance, potential, and limitations of major scientific and technological discoveries, is a theoretical physicist and author of the international bestseller "Einstein's Dream," one of the most widely read books on university campuses. He is one of the first professors to receive a dual faculty appointment – in science and humanities – at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His most recent book, "The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew," is a collection of essays on modern physics and philosophy.
The remainder of the Centennial Colloquia Series features:
Feb. 27 – "Sustainable and Affordable Home Building," by Dorothy J. Gerring and Rob A. Wozniak, associate professors of architectural technology, joined by students participating in the first U.S. Department of Energy Challenge Home Student Design Competition
April 22 – "Google Meets Aldo Leopold: Information, Technology and 21st Century Environmental Ethics," by Rob Cooley, assistant professor of anthropology/environmental science, and Mark D. Noe, professor of English-composition
Sept. 16 – "Biometrics in Today's Society: Protecting Identity in the 21st Century," by Lisa R. Bock, assistant professor of computer information technology
Nov. 18 – "Technology, Power and Responsibility," by Craig A. Miller, assistant professor of history/political science
For more about Penn College's Centennial Celebration – and the many events and activities that are planned – visit the Centennial website.