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A “brain gain” education initiative June 28, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Education, Innovation, Technology.
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Kudos to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania leaders, who saw a convergence of workforce and economic development challenges and stepped up to create a truly innovative solution. But let me hand the mike over to Dr. Melvyn D. Schiavelli, founding president of the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, who is reporting to the public after the conclusion of their first year of classes:

Employers in a global economy value college graduates that bring a combination of specialized technical aptitudes, adaptability, and business skills to the workforce. The solution is to motivate U.S. students and adults, using a variety of incentives, to study and enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers: the STEM disciplines. This will require new approaches to higher education and new thinking about traditional undergraduate degree programs.

We recognized this challenge in Central Pennsylvania and created a ‘brain gain’ education model that can serve as an example for other states to follow.

The capital region of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania had many economic assets, but there were significant weaknesses in our economic portfolio–one being the lack of a four-year university focused on the production of technology-educated graduates needed to capitalize on our local information-technology opportunities. With too few technology-educated workers available, our region’s economic growth was depending too heavily on sectors with lower-paying jobs and dimmer long-term prospects. We were in danger of becoming what one business leader described as a ‘warehouse economy.’ Other states face the same dilemma.

Our solution was to create Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, a private urban educational institution–co-locating a high school, comprehensive university, and business incubator–that provides the competencies that encourage the successful navigation of the STEM careers by all students. Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education Ray Simon lauded the idea as a “model for the rest of the nation.”

Members of regional industry are playing a role by developing our course curriculum and participating as corporate faculty and program advisory team members. In addition, we link every student with a business mentor upon enrollment and have a mandatory multi-year internship program. In the near future, Harrisburg University’s SciTech Innovation Center will foster regional entrepreneurial ventures as well as attract new technology companies to the Central Pennsylvania Region.

Brilliant.

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