Penn State Wilkes-Barre receives Program Enhancement Grant

LEHMAN, Pa. — Penn State Wilkes-Barre has received a Pennsylvania State University Engineering Technology and Commonwealth Engineering (ETCE) Program Enhancement Grant (PEG).

The purpose of the ETCE-PEG is to provide engineering faculty with funding that will improve engineering and engineering technology labs and classrooms to expose the students to new technologies and learning environments that promote intellectual activities and applied experiences in engineering and technology.

“For us, the goal of this proposal was to strengthen the quality and student interest in a variety of engineering and computer science courses offered on campus,” explains Instructor of Computer Science Jeff Chiampi. “Some of the course rely heavily on abstract concepts and exposing students to the final product from day one will result in a better interest and engagement, improving academic performance in the courses.”

The PEG grant proposal centered around the idea of inserting virtual and augmented reality devices in basic engineering courses through a mobile cart which would house the technologies.

“We had six main objectives to this proposal,” states Professor of Engineering Albert Lozano-Nieto. “Expose the students to this state-of-the-art emerging technology, provide hands on learning relating directly to material being taught already, fostering student engagement in computer coding, supplement course materials with experiences not practical in the real world, demonstrate to students that several disciplines can be brought together and applied to one device, and finally, creating an experience for the students they can use to differentiate themselves from other post-grad job seekers.”

Equipment to be purchased with this grant will include computers, software, two monitors, a mobile cart and the devices themselves. Penn State Wilkes-Barre will be exposing their students to both virtual reality devices currently dominating the marketplace, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Additionally, Microsoft HoloLens, an augmented reality device, will round out the equipment on the mobile cart.

“This PEG grant covers a broad spectrum of courses impacted,” says Instructor of Electrical Engineering Tim Sichler. “Computer science and engineering are the obvious course but the new game development minor, physics and even some art and history classes can utilize this equipment.”

Equipment for the PEG grant has already been ordered and will be implemented beginning this fall semester.