Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, and the Greater Erie Industrial Development Corp., an affiliate of DevelopErie, broke ground on May 15 for a $16.5 million Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center, a collaborative research facility that will add classrooms, engineering labs and private industry space to Knowledge Park.
The two-story, 60,000-square-foot building will include manufacturing and materials labs, prototyping and product design spaces and a secure lab designed for government research. The building’s design will allow for the addition of an industrial high-bay, if tenants need that feature.
Industrial tenants are expected to occupy nearly half of the building, which will be on the south side of Technology Drive, near the Jack Burke Research and Economic Development Center. That could bring as many as 210 new jobs to Knowledge Park, a partnership of Penn State Behrend and GEIDC. More than 500 people already work in the park’s five buildings, which are at 98 percent of capacity.
Shared research space and access to Penn State Behrend’s labs and equipment will lead to collaboration with the college’s students and faculty members. Those resources, combined with Penn State’s leading intellectual property policy – Knowledge Park tenants own the results of college research they fund – already are drawing technology companies to the park.
“Knowledge Park is finally at the point where the original collaborative vision is being realized,” said John Elliott, CEO and president of DevelopErie. “The Penn State Behrend-DevelopErie partnership provides a first-class atmosphere for businesses who want access to intellectual and technical resources. The focus of Knowledge Park is a customized, collaborative environment.”
The Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center will expand Penn State Behrend’s “open lab” initiative, in which business leaders, faculty members and students engage in research and development as teams. The model creates relevant student learning while addressing the research and workflow needs of business and industry partners.
The building, which is targeted to open in fall 2015, also will provide more space for Penn State Behrend’s School of Engineering. Eight classrooms and 25 faculty offices will be located there.
“The Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center will provide the ideal environment for interconnectivity,” said Ralph Ford, associate dean for industry and external relations and director of the School of Engineering at Penn State Behrend. “Our students will benefit from the expertise and knowledge of industry partners. At the same time, their work will advance the technologies that support local manufacturing, which is an essential element of the Erie region’s economy.”
Penn State will fund nearly $10.7 million of the building’s construction. GEIDC and DevelopErie will provide the additional funding, which will support the industrial tenants.