In a press conference Monday morning in Downtown Reading, Alvernia University announced they will be offering three new Bachelor of Science degrees included in their CollegeTowne initiative.
Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Engineering will be offered starting next fall to meet student interest, local market demand, and community workforce needs.
“Engineering programs like the ones announced today will be the centerpiece of our Reading CollegeTowne initiative,” said Alvernia University President John R. Loyack.
“These engineering programs and the programs that follow will offer experiences that rival programs at much larger schools because of the partnerships have established with some of the largest businesses in the region. We will share labs and development projects so that every engineer at Alvernia will be steeped in applied learning to create fundamentally sound, application ready engineers to solve today’s business problems.”
The engineering program is the first academic offering to emerge from Alvernia’s newly-launched modernized, student-centered and entrepreneurial operating model. The engineering program will be housed at the university’s new downtown location at 401 Penn St. and will include state of the art labs and research facilities as well as easy access to the economic redevelopment activity happening on Penn Street and throughout downtown Reading.
“We cannot talk about economic development without discussing the important role education plays in developing future professionals to sustain that growth,” said City of Reading Mayor Eddie Moran.
“The City has a vision, and a plan called the Downtown Plus Strategic Plan; it fills me with great enthusiasm that Alvernia’s CollegeTowne campus is part of the new energy in our downtown area. Their announcement of a new engineering program will add tremendous value to our City. Alvernia’s newly-launched operating model matches our plan impeccably, and it’s confirmation that we are headed in the right direction. We will continue to work hard to provide opportunities to the talent Alvernia is developing so that those students can thrive locally. Creating partnerships, opportunities and collaborations between businesses, government, and educational facilities is the synergy I mentioned throughout my campaign. This is just the beginning. I look forward to seeing the incredible talent that will enter the engineering world because of this program.”
The market demands for the new engineering programs were identified through collaboration with the Engineering Program Industry Advisory Committee, a group of local community leaders and manufacturers. The board identified regional workforce gaps for engineering talent and innovation and will provide comprehensive experiential learning opportunities for students.
“Local engineering centric businesses have struggled to recruit the talent necessary to grow,” said President and CEO of Brentwood Industries Peter Rye. “Not only will Alvernia’s strategy produce more engineers, it will connect students and faculty with our R&D facilities and staff to provide a great educational experience for students and give employers an enviable position in the hunt for talent. This is the synergy employers have been looking for.”
The university consulted with curriculum advisers and academic engineering professionals to provide a cross section between academia and industry to ensure the engineering tracks met regional and national demand. Alvernia is hiring faculty members that compliment local industries, including battery manufacturing, plastics and processing.
“Students will be provided with a rigorous engineering curriculum and strong liberal arts core that emphasizes ethics and leadership and will be able to engage with industry leaders early in their academic journey,” said Alvernia Senior Vice President and Provost Glynis Fitzgerald. “This innovative academic and experiential learning blend will prepare fundamentally sound, application ready students who will make a real impact on the future of Reading and highly sought after professionals in the marketplace upon graduation.”
Students in Alvernia’s engineering programs will be provided applied research opportunities with faculty as undergraduates and the opportunity to engage in innovative and creative thinking and real-world problem-solving through the O’Pake Institute’s student-powered business incubator. Students will be exposed to solving real-world problems during each of their four years as faculty will partner with local engineering leaders to create unique, hands-on and semester-long application projects as part of the course instruction.
“The O’Pake Institute and our student-powered business incubator is geared toward helping identify and solve difficult problems for local businesses, entrepreneurs and community partners,” said Vice President, Associate Provost and Chief Operating Officer of the O’Pake Institute, Dr. Rodney Ridley. “Highly skilled engineering students and faculty members are crucial in helping solve these difficult problems. We expect Alvernia’s new learning environment in downtown Reading to be a catalyst for change in Reading, Berks County and the greater southeastern Pennsylvania region.”
Alvernia University is pursuing national accreditation of its four-year degree program through the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, the accrediting body for engineering programs in the United States, and anticipates the program will be reviewed for accreditation in 2023.