Penn State Wilkes-Barre: a tradition of quality, customizable workforce development programs

Penn State Wilkes-Barre has over 100 years of history in workforce development

Penn State Wilkes-Barre has over 100 years of proud history of workforce development in the Wyoming Valley. Penn State Wilkes-Barre was established at Coughlin High School in Wilkes-Barre in 1916 as the Penn State Extension School of Engineering to train engineers and improve mining methods and worker safety. Within a few years the school’s offerings had expanded to include courses in mathematics, surveying, reinforced concrete, air conditioning, mechanics, and engineering (mechanical, electrical, civil, mining, aeronautical, and textile).

In 1948 a local GI, Warren J. Smith, earned a diploma in industrial electricity. Mr. Smith, uncle of Pam Lang­don in Penn State Wilkes‑Barre’s Con­tinu­ing Edu­ca­tion depart­ment, went on to a long and successful career with IBM in New York City.

During World War II, the school, now known as the Pennsylvania State College Wilkes-Barre Technical School Center, offered tuition-free, government-sponsored courses to train women and older men to replace the younger men in industry who joined the war effort. The non-credit college-level courses also trained workers already in war production to take over more highly skilled jobs. When the war ended, courses offered at the school were approved by the Veterans Administration under the provisions of the GI Bill® of Rights, and veterans were able to gain a valuable education locally.

In 1950, the technical school moved to the Guthrie School building on North Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre due to the continued high demand for education and job training for veterans after the war. In the mid-1960s, Richard and Helen Robinson of Connecticut gave Hayfield House and the surrounding farm in Lehman to Penn State, and the property became the current Penn State Wilkes-Barre campus. Penn State Wilkes-Barre continues to grow in academic offerings, facilities, and locations, with the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Continuing Education department opening the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Northern Tier Center in Bradford County in 1986.

Continuing Education currently offers a wide range of programs in manufacturing and distribution—growing industries in our local market. Students can earn Penn State credits and certificates in Supply Chain Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, Introduction to Business Management, and Introduction to Corporate Communication; a non-credit certificate is also offered in Project Management. Training in a range of topics such as AutoCAD and Supervision Essentials is also available.

Over the years, Continuing Education at Penn State Wilkes-Barre has consistently offered quality programming to support the evolving workforce development needs of companies and the professional development needs of individuals in our area. Training programs, for-credit courses, credit certificate programs, and non-credit certificate programs are available at our campus in Lehman, at our Northern Tier Center, and on site at the workplace. And many offerings can be customized based upon your company’s specific needs!

Penn State Wilkes-Barre Continuing Education has created a brief video celebrating Penn State Wilkes-Barre’s history in our area (see below). As you can see, although our students have changed, our goals have not!

For more information or to register for classes, please call us at 570-675-9253 or e-mail [email protected].