July 16--Thanks to an in-kind grant from Siemens valued at $750 million, Pennsylvania State University's Great Valley campus in Malvern will offer hands-on experience to its first undergraduate students next month.
The grant from Siemens will provide engineering and manufacturing software to nine Penn State campuses, including Great Valley, which is launching a bachelor's degree in engineering program.
Students will have access to the same software used by companies to develop and manufacture products.
Siemens' software, Product Lifecycle Management, or PLM, has been used to design NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover, Dyson vacuum cleaners, and Callaway golf clubs.
"It's really this idea of creating these products virtually and then integrating them into the real-world manufacturing process," said Bill Boswell, senior director of partner strategy for Siemens PLM Software.
Craig Edelbrock, chancellor of Penn State's Great Valley campus, said the grant -- expected to be announced Wednesday -- is important because manufacturing and engineering are becoming increasingly dependent on software and technology.
"This is really as real-world as you can get, and it's also as professional and as advanced and as state-of-the-art as we could possibly get," he said.
Edelbrock said the new undergraduate engineering program at the Great Valley campus will begin with about a dozen students. The program will allow students to spend two years at Penn State Abington or Penn State Brandywine in Media before transferring to Great Valley for engineering classes during their junior and senior years. The Great Valley campus in Chester County previously only offered graduate degree programs.
The undergraduate program will begin small and will grow to as many as 70 students within a few years, Edelbrock said.
"They'll take engineering design courses that will use the software where they design 3-D mechanical components for various devices, robotics, or vehicles or whatever they dream up," he said.
In a workshop in Great Valley's new engineering and education center, students will use 3-D printers to create their products engineered with Siemens software.
There is often a perception that manufacturing jobs are "dark, dirty, and dangerous," Boswell said, so Siemens is "helping people understand that manufacturing is not what it was 40 or 50 or 60 years ago."
The grant is a continuation of a 25-year-old partnership between Penn State and Siemens, Boswell said.
"Building programming and tools for manufacturing education in the region is important," said Mike Cooper, of the city's office of manufacturing and industry, which Mayor Nutter created this year. "It supports a variety of new industries."
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