Pitt- Bradford

A group of community dignitaries as well as administrators and staff at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford broke ground Friday for the construction of the $24.5 million Engineering and Information Technologies Building on campus. Construction is expected to begin immediately.

Over the past 27 years, administrators and presidents at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford shared a vision of one day building an Engineering and Information Technologies Building on campus.

That dream became reality Friday when officials and administrators involved with the $24.5 million project were on-hand for the unveiling of the sign depicting the architectural rendering of the structure and groundbreaking ceremonies. Welcome and Introductions were provided by Jeannine T. Schoenecker, advisory board chair.

Richard Esch, Pitt-Bradford interim president, said the general contractor for the project, Rycon Construction Inc. of Pittsburgh, is ready to start work on the project immediately.

“This site for this building was identified in 1994,” Esch told the audience gathered under a tent. “Fast forward to Dr. (Livingston) Alexander who was here for 15 years (as president) and helped get this building into the facilities plan through academic space studies, so it’s a culmination of efforts over that long horizon.”

Esch noted the program and building had been an early vision of the late Lester Rice, past chairman emeritus of the advisory board who had been an advocate for an engineering program at Pitt-Bradford 30 years ago. Esch spoke of many other staff and community members, including Dr. Richard McDowell, president emeritus, who contributed to the creation of the program and building.

Others who spoke included Dr. Ann E. Cudd, provost and senior vice chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh.

“This project has been a long time in the making,” Cudd said. “It’s been decades in the making … this campus last welcomed a new building two decades ago. From my perspective, the groundbreaking we’re gathered here to experience points the way to a really bright future for Pitt-Bradford, the community of Bradford as well as the region.”

Cudd said the building will be a “cutting edge home for this campus’s computer information system and technology program, as well as for two new engineering technology programs.”

She said a bit of late-breaking news for the campus is that the university has approved the recruitment of students to the program.

“Of course all of you play an important role here for your children, grandchildren and neighbors — make sure they know the opportunity this presents to them,” she remarked.

Cudd said the new building will have hands-on labs, applied mathematics and maker space as well as 3-D printing.

“The students will be designing and building prototypes and will be learning about the chemistry of petroleum and natural gas and so much more,” Cudd explained. “Our engineering technology students, mechanical engineering technology students and our energy engineering technology students will all have the very finest learning environment to achieve their highest ambitions. “And this will make it easy to recruit the kind of faculty we need here,” Cudd added, “At the same time, Pitt-Bradford will be supporting the needs of the community manufacturing employers. This is an incredible win-win, it’s actually a triple win with hopes our graduates would stay here to live and work in this region and continue to build this economy and this community.”

Cudd lauded the efforts of Pitt-Bradford faculty members, community members and legislators who include Marty Causer (R-Turtlepoint) for their help with the effort.

Causer was next to speak and said the program and building are “not only exciting for Pitt-Bradford, but for the entire region.

“This is really a game changer for our region,” Causer said. “The opportunities that will come to McKean County and the entire region are endless … we’re going to educate students here and many of them, I believe, will stay here in this region and support local industry. And that’s what we’re looking for.”

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)