Gannon University: $500,000 awarded to Gannon advances cyber education

New funds from the federal government will further propel the work Gannon University’s Institute for Health and Cyber Knowledge is doing to support regional workforce development and to pave the way for more area students to pursue STEM-related fields.

Gannon University will receive $500,000 through community project funding sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R- Pa). The funding was included in the omnibus spending package approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate last week and signed by President Biden Tuesday.

This funding will be used to create a STEM pathway for middle and high school students in the National Youth Cyber Education Program, to provide undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering fields, and to support businesses in northwestern Pennsylvania.

“The team at Gannon University has been instrumental in developing the I-HACK building and workforce development programs in a variety of STEM fields,” Kelly said. “Building and preparing a strong workforce – even before our young people start college – is essential to any community thriving and this funding will help Gannon achieve those goals.”

“Gannon is driven to provide access to exceptional educational experiences for our students and opportunities that ignite the passion and potential of young people throughout our community,” said Gannon President Keith Taylor, Ph.D. “I am grateful for Congressman Kelly’s belief in our mission and his sponsorship of this funding. As an urban, anchor institution, we take seriously our responsibility to open doors and develop the minds of future leaders in our community.”

The first floors of I-HACK opened in January 2021 and are home to our cybersecurity and cyber engineering programs. The third floor – called The Hatchery – is a collaborative space in which students and faculty work with local and national businesses such as Aurora WDC, Lockheed Martin Corp. and UNISHKA to name a few. Future floors in the six-story building at 150 W. 10th St. will continue to integrate hands-on learning with economic development.

This funding will help establish a Center for Manufacturing and Technology on an additional floor that will provide manufacturers with much-needed resources, including assistance in creating secure intelligent systems. Furthermore, it will showcase Additive Manufacturing and a makerspace. This facility will provide the expertise, research and talent pool to support traditional manufacturers throughout the region to their next level. This project is supported by a $2 million 2019 RCAP and a $1.5 million 2021 ARC Power Awards in addition to Gannon’s commitment to this initiative.

Gannon has a strong history of engaging middle and high school students through a variety of committed programming, including The Regional Summer School of Excellence, which is more 40 years old. Gannon continuously provides hands-on science education for high school students through NW PA every summer.

Between 2008 to 2021, with support of three consecutive NSF S-STEM awards, Gannon funded 289 unique students with scholarships averaging $5,915 per year to enter STEM fields in engineering and computing years or to continue to graduate schools.

Gannon University is dedicated to linking learning and service, and this funding will supplement the technology available for our faculty and students to engage local middle school students.

Gannon’s “GO College” college awareness program has had a full-time presence since 2010 with Erie public high schools and with Strong Vincent Middle School since 2017. During that time, the program has helped prepare more than 3,000 students for post-secondary education, career acquisition, military service of technical college. Also, Quyen Aoh, Ph.D., associate professor of biology at Gannon, has led the Feeding Minds and Families program that has reached hundreds of middle school students through after-school STEM programs, take-home STEM kits, and summer STEM activities with Our West Bayfront since 2018.

Taken together, these programs and the programs under development at I-HACK have the potential to significantly improve the STEM pathways for students in the region that one day will create the talent infrastructure needed to fill STEM jobs across northwestern Pennsylvania and beyond.

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