Funding Aids Mission of High-Tech Instruction, Workforce Training
The Center for Business and Workforce Development, an incubator for the jobs of tomorrow and a fertile laboratory for the Pennsylvania College of Technology students who will fill them, received a major boost from Harrisburg on Monday. State Rep. Brett O. Feese (R-Plunketts Creek) delivered a $1 million state grant toward completion of the 31,800-square-foot building on the site of the former BiLo supermarket along West Fourth Street.
A summer move-in is expected at the $4.8 million building, which will house Workforce Development & Continuing Education, the Industrial Modernization Center, Williamsport/Lycoming Keystone Innovation Zone offices, the Penn State Center for Continuing and Distance Education at Penn College, and the college's electronics and computer engineering technology majors.
"The college's history is based on instructional response to industry need, and this facility celebrates the continuation of that mission," said Davie Jane Gilmour, Penn College president. "It is no coincidence that the major forces in regional economic development will share the building with students engaged in exciting 'degrees that work.'"
Gilmour praised Rep. Feese, who is a member of the college's board of directors, for his support on the project. As chairman of the state House Appropriations Committee, Feese repeatedly has obtained invaluable funding for the college to help purchase state-of-the-art instructional equipment, and he was a driving force toward the newly opened Roger and Peggy Madigan Library.
"Pennsylvania College of Technology is one of our region's greatest assets," Feese said. "This institution has long remained a provider of premier educational opportunities and is an instrumental partner in strengthening Pennsylvania's workforce, which helps enhance our economy.
"Recognizing the impact this project will have on both students and the community, I am pleased to offer my support and look forward to its completion."
The state money comes from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, administered by the Office of the Budget for projects that display significant potential for improving economic growth and the creation of jobs and new opportunities in communities throughout Pennsylvania.
Eight student laboratories and faculty offices will comprise roughly one-third of the building, offering well-equipped instructional space for industrial processes, robotics, lasers, industrial testing and networking.
"What College Avenue Labs did for collision repair, civil engineering technology and automated manufacturing, this building will do for electronics," Senior Vice President William J. Martin said. "There isn't any field more high-tech than this the very definition of 'electronics' is new and emerging technologies and this will be a showpiece for the very best that we can invest." (College Avenue Labs opened in 2003 in the former HON Industries building.)
One laboratory specifically will be used for senior projects, required in all of Penn College's four-year majors and termed by Martin as "some of the most significant work being done on campus." Many senior projects at the college have a strong industrial application, such as last year's student design of a high-impact tester for the plastics field, and a dedicated lab will offer a unique window on an ever-evolving technological world.
"From an industry standpoint, I think that's terribly exciting," he said.
The remainder of the building represents the "union of economic-development players involved in the training of area business and industry," Martin added.
"Locating them so near the campus has enormous significance," he said. There will be an entrance along West Fourth Street for those offices; the southern portion of the building will be accessed from Vine Avenue, which faces and will connect the new building to the college's main campus.
The architect for the project is Murray Associates Architects, P.C., Harrisburg, which has designed many other recent projects at the college, including the Student and Administrative Services Center, Rose Street Apartments, the College Avenue Labs conversion, extensive renovations at the Klump Academic Center and construction of the Madigan Library.
The general contractor is the Robert Feaster Corp., Northumberland, which also oversaw the Academic Center renovation project.
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