Congressman announces teachers grant

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson today announced a federal grant that will help high school teachers improve STEM skills and manufacturing education in their classrooms.

The National Science Foundation awarded $553,966 for the Research Experiences for Teachers Site in Manufacturing Simulation and Automation at Penn State Behrend, which will engage regional high school teachers and community college instructors in manufacturing simulation and automation cutting-edge research.

Over a three-year period, the site will offer an intensive 6-week summer research program to a total of 36 teachers and college instructors from schools and community colleges in the Erie metropolitan area covering counties in the Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio tristate region.

The Research Experience for Teachers participants will gain first-hand experience by participating in intensive research activities to develop effective curriculum modules and engage their own students in authentic experiences in science and engineering. The project outcomes will be aligned with the educational standards and the training needs of modern manufacturing.

“This is a fantastic program that engages our Erie teachers and allows them to complete state of the art research and manufacturing simulation,” Rep. Thompson said. “It is expected that 6,000 students will benefit from this program and help fill the skills gap in our manufacturing sector. I am a strong supporter of career and technical education and this program is working to develop the skills of both students and teachers alike through hands-on educational experiences. Congratulations to Penn State Behrend on this award.”

Faisal Aqlan, Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering at Penn State Behrend said the award will be essential to help grow students’ interest in modern manufacturing.

“This important award will help fill the skills gap in U.S. manufacturing by engaging the Erie region’s high school teachers and community college instructors in manufacturing simulation and automating cutting-edge research,” Professor Aqlan said. “Over three years, Penn State Behrend will offer intensive six-week summer research programs to 36 teachers and instructors from Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio. Participants will develop effective curriculum modules and outcomes will be aligned with the educational standards and the training needs of modern manufacturing, ultimately facilitating the latest manufacturing education to young adults in the region. We appreciate Congressman Thompson’s support of Penn State’s efforts to fulfill its land-grant mission and of funding for the National Science Foundation.”


ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Over a 6-week period each summer, Penn State Behrend will host a cohort of 12 high school teachers and community college faculty participants from schools and community colleges that encompass a diverse population and underrepresented groups of students.

The project focuses on teaching manufacturing using simulation and automation and it consists of five main activities; each representing a manufacturing paradigm. The participants will develop skills in manufacturing as well as project management, scientific writing, and academic presentation.

The knowledge will be conveyed to students through hands-on experiments and classroom activities. In addition, the Research Experience for Teachers team will help participating schools and community colleges to create manufacturing student clubs, identify the missions, and provide activity support. This, in turn, will influence the students to consider careers in manufacturing fields.


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