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Million-Dollar NSF Grant to Foster Students’ Career Preparedness

How readily does early exposure to job-shadowing and internships translate into career success for today’s college students? That’s the million-dollar question to be answered by a National Science Foundation grant newly awarded to Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Administered by the foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the $1 million in multiyear funding aims to increase retention, degree completion and career readiness for students representing six STEM-focused, associate-degree majors in Penn College’s School of Construction & Design Technologies.

The students – to be identified as Built Environment Scholars – will be chosen each year on the basis of financial need as identified by a scholarship selection committee among a pool of academically talented applicants.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology is one of six associate degree majors at the heart of a $1 million career-readiness grant awarded to Pennsylvania College of Technology by the National Science Foundation.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology is one of six associate degree majors at the heart of a $1 million career-readiness grant awarded to Pennsylvania College of Technology by the National Science Foundation.

“It’s extremely exciting to learn that Penn College has been awarded an NSF S-STEM grant,” said Naim N. Jabbour, an assistant professor of architectural technology and principal investigator for the funded research to begin this fall. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the countless hours spent on behalf of the assigned team. We all look forward to the next step as we embark on a journey exploring many opportunities to better serve our students, campus and community at large.”

As with a similar NSF Tech Scholars program conducted earlier within the college’s School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies, the majority of grant funding will be devoted to scholarships.

Approximately 40 students – 10 per year – will be awarded up to $10,000 each for a maximum of two years. Upon completion of the associate degree, students who decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree will be guided toward financial resources and additional funding opportunities.

“Penn College is very pleased to have this grant supporting the students in Construction & Design Technologies. This is our first grant focused solely on associate degree students,” said Paul L. Starkey, vice president for academic affairs/provost. “The programs supported by the grant prepare students to launch their careers in construction- and design-related fields. Targeting academically talented students with a demonstrated financial need provides a life-changing experience for those who participate.”

The first round of scholarships will be issued during the 2017-18 academic year for students in the featured two-year majors: architectural technology; civil engineering technology; surveying technology; heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology; and building construction technology. Those enrolling in the concrete science technology major, to begin in Fall 2018, will be eligible to apply in the remaining years of the grant period.

Joining Jabbour as co-investigators on the grant leadership team are Carol A. Lugg, assistant dean of construction and design technologies; Jason W. Killinger, instructor of HVAC technology; David J. Fedor, instructor of civil engineering technology; and Craig A. Miller, associate professor of history/political science.

Jabbour, Killinger and Fedor – along with Clifford J. Jones, instructor of building construction technology – will serve as mentors for the BE Scholars. Miller will guide the research to determine the effects of the early exposure to career awareness and industry opportunities.

Starting with a First Year Experience course (required of all incoming Penn College students during their initial semester) and continuing throughout their associate-degree coursework, students will be informed about career and professional pathways in the six aforementioned STEM fields.

For more about the School of Construction & Design Technologies at Penn College, call 570-327-4518.

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


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