DUBOIS – Representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) visited Penn State DuBois on Friday to learn more about engineering programs that are offered, and to tour the campus engineering facilities.
The DCED supports engineering programs at Penn State DuBois through an annual grant that funds equipment and material purchases, and other costs. The visit was part of the thee-day DCED On the Road tour through the North Central Pennsylvania Region.
The DCED On the Road initiative has given state economic development experts a firsthand look at efforts taking place throughout the region that support industry and the economy. In a statement about the initiative DCED Secretary C. Alan Walker said, “The purpose of our three-day visit to the troops on the ground is to get the pulse of our partners in the field, to celebrate your successes and to learn how we can work together with you to be even more successful.”
During their visit to Penn State DuBois, representatives of the DCED learned about the direct support that campus engineering programs provide to the regional powder metal (PM) industry. Professionals in the PM industry manufacture components for everything from automobiles to home appliances. Assistant Professor of Materials Engineering Craig Stringer offered a detailed presentation on two and four-year degree programs in engineering that are offered at the campus. He also explained the close relationships that the programs have with PM companies and the benefits that both parties enjoy.
“Industry relationships are turning into jobs for our students,” Stringer said. “We have four to six students who plan to graduate this coming spring who have jobs lined up or have job offers already.”
Stringer explained that he and his students provide research and development services for area companies, and often collaborate with those companies on special projects. Those projects prepare the students for the real-world and afford them opportunities to network within the industry. Stringer said, “The companies benefit from having projects completed, and we benefit from having our students get real-world, hands-on experience, and landing jobs.”
Additionally, Penn State DuBois makes labs and equipment available for employees of area companies to use in their own projects and research.
Stringer also highlighted the thriving job market in the PM industry, underscoring the demand for skilled workers and the promising odds for success a new engineering graduate can have.
“There have been 50-plus jobs recently advertised in the papers in this region that require the skills that our students graduate with. We graduate about 12 students a year. That’s a good ratio for those graduates.”
DCED Manufacturing and Life Sciences Ombudsman Tom Palisin was among those who took in the campus tour and presentation. He remarked that the DCED has supported Penn State DuBois engineering programs for around 15 years. He said this visit proves their support is worthwhile.
“The powder metal industry is critical to the region, and the DCED has done well by investing in this school, which really caters to that industry,” Palisin said. “The job market in the industry is good, and these programs help to train people for these jobs; it’s all very good for the region.”