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SPACE program targets first-year engineering majors; $300 tuition credit

Incoming Engineering Students
An incoming engineering student explains his answer to a math problem at the two-week SPACE program.
7/30/2012 —

 

SUMMER PREPARATION FOR ACADEMICS IN
THE COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING
Third Annual Program Prepares Incoming Engineering Majors

For a third consecutive summer, Penn State New Kensington is offering a preparatory program for incoming freshmen that is tailored to engineering students.

Summer Preparation for Academics in the College of Engineering, or SPACE as it is known on campus, is a two-week academic session running from July 23 to Aug. 3. The sessions are designed to strengthen the skills, knowledge, and experience of those seeking to major in engineering. The program includes classes in pre-calculus, chemistry, physics, and English, as well as workshops on study skills and course scheduling strategies. Peer mentoring and networking with current students helps ease the transition from high school to college.

"The Space program is an excellent opportunity for freshmen to gain familiarity with basic subject matter in engineering," said Joan Kowalski, program director and senior instructor in engineering at the campus. "When the fall semester begins, they should feel more comfortable with some of the material in their courses."

Art and arboretum classes  were added to the curriculum this year. The art class will be taught by Bud Gibbons, professor of visual arts at the campus. “Bud and I have been actively promoting the incorporation of the arts into engineering,” said Kowalski, who joined the campus faculty in 1987. “The overlap between the two fields is incredible.”

In addition, participants will get a tour of Alcoa Technical Center, located on state Rt. 780, a couple of miles from the campus. The center features the world’s largest light metals lab and employs scientists and researchers whose design and development practices focus on sustainability.

The 14 students, nearly equal to the number in the first two programs combined, have access to computer labs, library resources, and textbooks. Those completing the program receive a $300 tuition credit for the fall semester. All of the current students will be enrolled at the New Kensington campus for the fall semester.

The retention rate for the budding engineers stands at 93 percent. Of the 15 original summer students, 14 are still engineering majors and matriculating at the campus.

SPACE is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, NSF is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science. The agency is the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. NSF awards limited-term grants -- about 10,000 new awards per year -- to fund specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a merit-review system. Most grants go to individuals or small groups.

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