The Penn State Board of Trustees has approved construction of a $15.6 million Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center in Knowledge Park. Work on the site is expected to begin in May.
The two-story building will add 60,000 square feet of space to Knowledge Park, a partnership of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, and the Greater Erie Industrial Development Corp. More than 500 people already work in the park’s five buildings, which are fully occupied.
Penn State will fund nearly $10.6 million of the construction. GEIDC and DevelopErie will provide the additional funding, which will support industrial tenants.
The Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center will provide more space for Penn State Behrend’s School of Engineering, which has more than 1,400 students. Eight classrooms and 25 faculty offices will be located in the building, which will be on the south side of Technology Drive, near the Jack Burke Research and Economic Development Center.
Industrial tenants will occupy nearly half of the new building, where shared research space will encourage collaboration with Penn State Behrend students and faculty members. The building, which will have space for approximately 210 corporate employees, advances Penn State Behrend’s “open lab” initiative, in which business leaders, faculty members and students engage in research and development as teams.
“Our office space at Knowledge Park is now 100-percent occupied,” said Katrina Smith, senior vice president of GEIDC. “It’s clear that companies are identifying the value of working in an environment that offers a unique opportunity to collaborate on research and product development with first-class faculty and student talent.”
Corporate tenants at the Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center also will have access to Penn State Behrend’s engineering labs and equipment. Those resources, combined with a relaxed intellectual property policy that allows companies to own the results of college research they fund, are drawing technology companies to other parts of Knowledge Park.
“These companies are engaging with the campus in a more intentional way,” said Ralph Ford, associate dean for industry and external relations and director of the School of Engineering. “This approach builds on the original vision of Knowledge Park and supports the growth of manufacturing in our region.”