Wilkes awarded grant; engineering renovations

James Jaskolka, Editor-in-Chief

Wilkes University received a $3 million grant from the State of Pennsylvania to be used to renovate the Stark Learning Center and create state of the art engineering laboratories.

The grant, presented by Gov. Tom Corbett at a press conference last Friday, requires Wilkes to match the funding, essentially providing $6 million in renovations. Specifically, the grant will allow the College of Science and Engineering to develop laboratories for nanotechnology, bioengineering and additive manufacturing.

Corbett called the investment “seed money,” noting that it is expected to create and retain nearly 300 jobs in the are down the road.

“I look at this as an investment not just for today or tomorrow, but for generations to come,” he said.

“[The renovations] will prepare the future workforce of the 21st century. They’ll generate income and money back to the local community, and more importantly, they’ll create opportunity for a better way of life for thousands of Pennsylvanians. I believe that any investment that improves the classroom experience of a college student is an investment truly worth making.”

Wilkes University President Patrick Leahy said the grant will help revitalize the SLC and allow the university to conduct state of the art teaching and research in three emerging fields. This, in turn, will strengthen the overall appeal of the university and the surrounding community.

“Our goal is to secure Wilkes University’s place as one of the nation’s finest small universities. This grant, coming just one year after opening the Cohen Science Center, provides a significant step forward in achieving that goal,” he said.

Leahy also stated that he considers Wilkes a “private institution with a public purpose,” and that the new funding will reinforce this idea.

“Our purpose is to educate more individuals in this valley, and to be a force for positive economic development in the community….This one grant will allow these purposes to continue for years and years to come.”

Senior  Zachary Tomasura spoke on behalf of the department at the conference, citing the benefit of the grant.

“As a senior pursuing dual degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering, I can confidently say that these investments into the engineering curriculum will ensure Wilkes’ position as an institution at the forefront of technology.”