Ceremony marks opening of new engineering center at Penn State York

August 24, 2011

More than 150 people gathered on Friday, Aug. 12, for the dedication of Penn State York’s new engineering facility, the Ralph G. and Madeline B. Swenson Engineering Center. More than 20 bikers road their Harley-Davidson motorcycles in a parade to the campus for the special ceremony. Members of the Swenson family, friends, representatives from Harley-Davidson, and the Nittany Lion mascot (in a sidecar) traveled from Laugerman’s Harley Davidson in York to the campus. For photos of the ceremony, visit http://goo.gl/SU9QU online.

Speakers for the evening included Lisa Ann Plowfield, Penn State York’s new chancellor; John J. Romano and Donald A. Gogniat, both previous campus executive officers at Penn State York who knew Ralph and Madeline well; Madlyn Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses at Penn State; and Carol Tanzola, Ralph and Madeline’s daughter.

Thanks to the generous gift from the Swenson Family Foundation in honor of the late Ralph and Madeline Swenson, Penn State York students have a new engineering center consisting of two large classrooms, a machine shop with robotics, and other cutting-edge technology which opened on Monday, Aug. 22 for classes.

"Today is a milestone for Penn State and Penn State York as we dedicate this exciting new engineering wing, which is named in recognition of the generous support provided by the Swenson family," said Hanes. "The Swenson family has been a Penn State family for several generations. Even after Ralph passed away, Madeline Swenson and family members continued to attend football games and other University activities."

The late Ralph G. Swenson began actively serving on the Penn State York Advisory Board in 1976. In 1985, he began serving in emeritus status and continued on the board through 2006 when he died. His daughter, Carol Tanzola, took over the tradition as a member of the board in 2007 and continues to serve today.

A new entrance on the exterior of the existing facility, the John J. Romano Administration Building, highlights the new center and includes an interior water feature.

Equipment and motorcycle parts that date back to the time when the late Ralph G. Swenson had a leadership role at Harley-Davidson York are showcased in the lobby area of the center between the classrooms.  Swenson was president of the Harley-Davidson York operation from 1975 until his retirement in 1986. He was one of the 13 executives who purchased Harley-Davidson Inc. from AMF in 1981. Greg and Gary, his sons, work for Harley-Davidson.

Harley equipment and memorabilia donated by the company and the Swenson family includes historic photos of the plant, a Chicago Riveter, a cast front wheel, manufacturing equipment, a cutaway of a Sportster motor and more.

The extensive renovation more than quadrupled the program's current Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology (EMET) and mechanical engineering technology (MET) space from two labs at 1,220 square feet to three areas totaling 5,100 square feet. The new 1,275-foot mechanical engineering lab is named in honor of Harvey and Winifred Bradley who made a generous donation to the project.

“In addition to recognizing the Swenson family, I am also pleased to join Chancellor Lisa Plowfield in recognizing Harvey and Winifred Bradley for their generous support,” said Hanes. “We appreciate the Bradley’s commitment to name the mechanical engineering lab which will also be open this fall.”

Founders and former owners of Bradley Lifting Corp., a leading manufacturer of below-the-hook lifting equipment, the Bradleys have a strong commitment to the York County community and want improved educational opportunities in the field of engineering. Their gift to Penn State York will help provide outstanding educational facilities and opportunities for students and prepare them for the workplace.

Harvey Bradley has served on the Penn State York Advisory Board since 1986. Over the years, he and his wife have contributed financially to Penn State, including a gift toward the renovation of a building located on Albemarle Street, adjacent to the campus. In 2001, it was named The Bradley Building. It houses the continuing education division, and its activities are an essential part of the campus.

Both the Swensons and the Bradleys have supported the campus for many years and thanks to their generosity these new facilities will help ensure that Penn State York remains at the forefront of engineering education in the region.

Total cost of the project is approximately $1.35 million, with the additional funds coming from other private philanthropists and organizations.

  • Penn State York's new Ralph G. and Madeline B. Swenson Engineering Center is open for fall classes. To see photos from the center's dedication ceremony, click on the image above.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 25, 2011