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Penn College celebrates welding lab expansion

“Penn College rightfully sits right where it should be. It ranks as one of the best colleges in the U.S.,” said Dennis Alvord, deputy assistant secretary for economic development for the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Alvord spoke remotely at a ceremony commemorating the partnership between his office and the Pennsylvania College of Technology in the expansion of the college’s welding lab.

“Your focus on providing students with a comprehensive, hands-on technical

education not only empowers your graduates for success, but is critical to Pennsylvania and our entire nation’s future economic competitiveness.

Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, Penn College president, unveiled a plaque commemorating the role EDA played in the expansion.

The expansion project added 35,000 feet of instructional space to the lab which is located in the college’s Lycoming Engines Metal Trades Center. At a total 55,000 plus square feet, the lab is believed to be the largest facility in higher education anywhere in the country. The EDA’s $2 million public works grant facilitated the expansion. Up to 45 welding students are enrolled in the college’s program annually,

Alvord noted that the job of EDA is to support locally driven plans that are designed to create economic opportunities and jobs, such as the expansion.

“As the only federal government agency with economic development as its sole mission, we know a good strategy when we see one,” he said, adding that “EDA only funds the projects that provide the American taxpayer with the biggest bang for their buck.”

Alvord explained that when the College’s application for grant funding was submitted the EDA’s regional office for competitive review, they found significant merit for the project.

“This is exactly the type of project that EDA seeks to support. The center provides students with hands-on, real-life skills training that can translate into meaningful rewarding full-time careers,” Alvord said.

“It provides businesses here and across the nation with a pipeline of skilled workers that can help them grow and expand. And, it builds on collaboratively regionally-focused efforts to grow the economy,” he added.

In her opening remarks, Gilmour said that the college “takes pride in our responsiveness to industry demands and the accomplishment of our innovative students.”

“For more than a century, Penn College and its predecessor institutions have adapted to meet industry needs to better prepare our students to transform tomorrow,” she said.

Also speaking at the event were U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-12 and Bradley M. Webb, dean of engineering technologies at Penn College.

The welding lab expansion facilities were dedicated earlier this year.

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