Legislators secure $1 million for engineering and technology building

HARRISBURG - The effort to bring new engineering technology training opportunities to the region took another step forward Thursday as Rep. Martin Causer and Sen. Joe Scarnati announced they have secured $1 million in state funding for Pitt-Bradford.

The university will use the funding to build an academic building to house its new and growing engineering and information technology programs. The funding supplements $2 million in state money released last year, and the lawmakers say they will work to obtain more to assist with the $22 million project cost, most of which will be funded by the university.

“This is great news for prospective students and area employers who have struggled to find properly trained and qualified workers to fill open jobs,” Causer said. “This has the potential to be a game-changer for our local economy, enabling employers to grow and expand here and giving more young people the opportunity to pursue a well-paying career while staying close to home.”

“I am very pleased that once again this year, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford is receiving substantial state funding towards this important program,” Scarnati said. “This is an outstanding investment in the future of our region. The funding will be a tremendous asset and help to ensure that we are in a better position to keep our young people here, as we work to retain the manufacturing jobs we have and also recruit new opportunities.”

The proposed new building will house engineering labs, engineering shops, computer labs [including a Virtual Reality lab and a Systems, Networks and Projects (SNAP) lab], the campus IT hub, classrooms and related offices.

“This great news adds to the growing excitement we're all experiencing on our campus as we prepare for the upcoming academic year and welcome a new freshman class,” said Dr. Catherine Koverola, university president. “We are profoundly grateful for the continuing support of Sen. Joe Scarnati and Rep. Marty Causer and for their latest efforts to secure additional funds for these important academic programs.

“These new and enhanced programs will provide many benefits. Our students will have additional and enhanced educational opportunities, and students from the region interested in studying these programs will be able to remain in the area. Additionally, these programs will provide our local business and industry partners with well-educated engineering and technical professionals who will inject energy and enthusiasm into the region,” she added.

Pat Frantz Cercone, university spokesperson, said, “We are excited to be adding to our current complement of excellent academic programs two new baccalaureate degree programs: mechanical engineering technology and energy engineering technology. We anticipate offering these two new programs in fall of 2022.

“This new project also will enable us to enhance our computer information systems and technology program, which is growing significantly and producing very successful graduates.”

Officials expect the project to create construction jobs as well as 10 new permanent faculty and staff jobs associated with teaching and supporting the academic programs. Additionally, 24 teaching jobs will be retained through the project.

The program expansion is expected to generate an average of 50 students each year and support 200 students after the fourth year. According to the state Department of Labor and Industry, students studying these majors will graduate into rapidly growing career fields.

Funding for the project was authorized by lawmakers in the Capital Budget Project Itemization Act.