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Appropriations boost recognizes college’s vital workforce role

The approved 2019-20 state budget delivers appropriation funding to Pennsylvania College of Technology reflecting its long history of success in producing skilled workers, while leveling the playing field with other publicly funded institutions in the commonwealth, the college’s board chair said Friday.

“Finally, Penn College is being recognized for the invaluable hands-on education and training it provides to students, who become highly skilled members of the workforce – addressing the skills gap that continues to impact industry and hinder the economy,” said Sen. Gene Yaw, chairman of the college’s Board of Directors. “All we have ever asked for is to be treated with parity in funding with other state institutions. With this budget, we have made real progress.”

The college’s state appropriation rises by $4 million in the 2019-20 state budget – funding allowing for enhancements benefiting students enrolled in in welding, electrical technology, physician assistant and mechatronics programs, as well as expanded outreach to prospective students in high-growth areas of the commonwealth. The increase brings Penn College’s annual state appropriation to $26.7 million within the college’s $157.3 million total budget.

“We are most grateful to the Legislature for the increased funding, which enables us to expand and enhance academic programs that are in high demand in the workforce,” said President Davie Jane Gilmour. “Responding nimbly to the needs of business and industry in Pennsylvania and beyond is a Penn College hallmark. Students and employers both will benefit from the enhancements to labs and equipment made possible by this additional funding.”

“Penn College is a Pennsylvania institution, training Pennsylvanians for employment in Pennsylvania, and we have been doing this since 1989,” Yaw added. “I am grateful to see that the importance of the college’s programs to providing a much-needed, trained workforce has not gone unnoticed. I would like to thank my fellow board member, Rep. Garth Everett, for his work in advocating for this appropriation in the state House.”

One beneficiary of the increased appropriation is an expansion project taking place in the welding laboratory in the college’s Lycoming Engines Metal Trades Center. The expansion, funded in part by a grant from the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, will be completed in time for the Fall 2019 semester and is a direct response to workforce needs.

Beyond entrustments of equipment and outright gifts from its industry partners, the college requires additional funding to complete the instructional infrastructure and to equip the lab with industry-standard robotics equipment, an innovative electron beam welder (the only one of its kind in higher education nationwide) and nondestructive testing laboratory equipment.

The 35,000-square-foot expansion will allow the college to enroll an additional 60 students annually. Typically, there is a waiting list for prospective students hoping to enroll in the popular program, which includes a bachelor’s degree in welding and fabrication engineering technology, an associate degree in welding technology, an associate degree in metal fabrication technology, and a certificate in welding.

Also to be funded is equipment in three laboratories for electrical technology – to better reflect industry standards and to allow for 20 additional students per semester in another in-demand program.

The increased appropriation funding will also benefit the combined bachelor’s/Master of Science degree in physician assistant studies. The funding would enable the college to create a mock intensive care laboratory facility, allowing for enrollment of 20 additional students annually in this rapidly growing health care career field.

In mechatronics, cited by U.S. News & World Report as a top growth program, the college’s laboratory has outgrown its space. An additional mechatronics laboratory would not only increase capacity in the workforce training of incumbent workers, but would also accommodate between 75 and 150 additional students in two new academic programs – automation engineering: mechatronics, and automation engineering: robotics and automation.

The increased appropriation would also permit the college to undertake expanded outreach to major population centers in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh), as well as areas of strong demographic growth (the Lehigh Valley and Chester, Lancaster and York counties).

The effort to expose prospective students, parents and stakeholders in these areas to the benefits and opportunities of applied technology education will rely heavily on career and technology centers and career technical education schools.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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