Skip to main content

Penn College receives NSF grant to combat skills gap

Unfilled manufacturing jobs through 2028 may total 2.4 million, threatening the health of the industry and the U.S. economy. With help from the National Science Foundation, Pennsylvania College of Technology is addressing that dire skills gap estimated by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute.

The NSF recently awarded the college a $591,924 grant through its Advanced Technological Education program to increase the number of qualified workers in advanced manufacturing. The money will fund several initiatives during the next three years aimed at students, teachers and school counselors.

Pennsylvania College of Technology is addressing the manufacturing skills gap with the help of a $591,924 grant awarded through the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program. The grant will fund several initiatives over the next three years aimed at students, teachers and school counselors.
Pennsylvania College of Technology is addressing the manufacturing skills gap with the help of a $591,924 grant awarded through the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program. The grant will fund several initiatives over the next three years aimed at students, teachers and school counselors.

“We are honored that the NSF has placed its faith in the college to help combat the alarming skills gap in manufacturing,” said David R. Cotner, dean of Penn College’s School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies. “It’s estimated that five out of 10 open manufacturing positions aren’t filled today because of the skills gap. We must dispel the ‘dark, dirty and dangerous’ manufacturing myth and reveal the reality of manufacturing. The sector offers outstanding jobs focused on advanced technology in clean environments.”

The study conducted by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute identified negative perceptions of manufacturing, the introduction of advanced technologies and the retirement of baby boomers as the main reasons for the skills gap.

Penn College initiatives facilitated by the grant will target misperceptions and offer pathways to obtain advanced technical skills.

College faculty- and staff-led symposiums and other recruitment activities geared to high school students, teachers and guidance counselors will dispel the myths of manufacturing as a nontechnical, low-paying career path. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. manufacturing worker’s annual pay in salary and benefits in 2017 was $84,832.

An increased pool of potential manufacturing students will have enhanced educational options at the college. Curriculum development – including a one-year certificate in computer numerical control – and high-level equipment acquisition in the areas of multi-axis machining, coordinate measuring machines and additive manufacturing will result from the grant.

“The grant also provides the resources for us to study and evaluate the effectiveness of our various efforts to attract and prepare students for advanced-technology careers within manufacturing,” Cotner said. “It’s essential that we monitor and adjust to the needs of industry as we attempt to shrink the skills gap.”

Richard K. Hendricks Jr., instructor of automated manufacturing and machining, served as the college’s principal investigator for the grant. Co-principal investigators were Eric K. Albert, associate professor of automated manufacturing and machining, and Bradley M. Webb, assistant dean of industrial, computing & engineering technologies.

Penn College offers several manufacturing-related majors, including a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering technology, associate degrees in automated manufacturing technology and machine tool technology, and a certificate in machinist general.

Information about those majors and other programs offered by the college’s School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies is available by calling 570-327-4520.

For more about grant-funding opportunities, faculty and staff may contact Grants & Sponsored Programs at ext. 7580 or through its Web portal.

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

 

Related Stories

A team of Pennsylvania College of Technology students achieved outstanding results at the recent Baja SAE Louisville. The nationwide competition required teams to design and build a single-seat, all-terrain vehicle to survive various challenges. The Penn College team earned four top-10 showings, including first place in the acceleration event and third place in the endurance race, Baja SAE’s toughest test. Kneeling (from left) are Marshall W. Fowler, of Perkasie; Dominic J. Lepri, of Monroe Township, N.J.; and Dhruv Singh, of Dayton, N.J. Back row (from left) are Tyler J. Bandle, of Slatington; Dakota C. Harrison, of Lewisberry; Christopher M. Schweikert, of Jamison; Morgan R. Bagenstose, of Reading; Caleb J. Harvey, of Elmer, N.J.; and Arjun L. Kempe, of Perkasie.
Automated Manufacturing & Machining

Penn College team excels at Baja SAE Louisville

Read more
Tomato gels, made in Chef Frank Suchwala’s Modernist Kitchen class at Pennsylvania College of Technology, used innovative culinary techniques and were formed in a nylon mold produced by manufacturing engineering technology student Mark T. McCorkle, of Natrona Heights.
Automated Manufacturing & Machining

Cross-campus collaboration helps students to innovate

Read more
Thomas L. Snyder, of Weedville, employs hands-on skills in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s mechatronics lab. Snyder, who graduates with an associate degree in mechatronics technology on May 16, has strong family roots at the institution.
Automated Manufacturing & Machining

Student to cap family tradition at Penn College commencement

Read more