Time will tell for PA ENGN project

The Pennsylvania Engineering coalition is a commendable idea, but lacking in concrete plans.

Pennsylvania’s seven research institutions have partnered to form the Pennsylvania Engineering initiative which aims to “revitalize Pennsylvania manufacturing through science, engineering and innovation” by directly linking collegiate research, as well as students themselves, with the manufacturing industry in the Keystone State.

A letter titled “Made in Pennsylvania” was written by the presidents of the seven member schools and published on Oct. 1 on the PA ENGN website, and was subsequently reprinted in the Inquirer on Nov. 10. The letter, written in part by President Neil Theobald, stated that the seven member institutions – Temple University, Drexel University, the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pennsylvania, Lehigh University, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh – plan to “create a statewide consortium for engineering and manufacturing research” in Pennsylvania in order to better create jobs and spur creativity within Pennsylvania’s manufacturing industry.

As colleges that are constantly in contention with each other for funding, grants, tuition money and many of the same prospective students, the seven member institutions deserve praise for reaching an agreement to help foster cooperative research  and job creation throughout Pennsylvania, especially at a time when the state’s unemployment rate – 7.7 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – sits above the national average.

However, both the published letter and the initiative’s website are vague on details, and do not fully delineate the in ways in which the project will bring the state’s education and manufacturing industries together. Of course, the project is just beginning and the initiative may need some more time to take shape. Time will tell if any meaningful partnerships spring from the PA ENGN coalition.

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