Motorcycles will 'roar' to dedication of York's engineering center

August 10, 2011

A group of bikers will gather at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 12, at Laugerman’s Harley-Davidson in York, Pa., and the roar of the engines of their Harleys will be most appropriate as the motorcycle parade heads to Penn State York for the dedication of the Ralph G. and Madeline B. Swenson Engineering Center. Members of the Swenson family, friends, representatives from Harley-Davidson, and the Nittany Lion mascot, in a sidecar, will ride to the unveiling of the new engineering center at the campus, which opens for classes later this month. The reception for this invitation-only event starts at 7 p.m. with a dedication and plaque unveiling at 8 p.m.

“We are fortunate to have friends who are committed to improving the quality of education for our students,” said Lisa Ann Plowfield, chancellor of Penn State York.  “Their support has allowed Penn State York to build a state-of-the-art engineering facility.”

Speakers for the evening include Plowfield, John J. Romano and Donald A. Gogniat, both previous campus executive officers at Penn State York who knew Ralph and Madeline Swenson well; Madlyn Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses at Penn State; and the Swensons' daughter, Carol Tanzola.

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.

“We are pleased and honored to carry on the legacy of our parents and grandparents, Ralph and Madeline Swenson, for future generations,” said members of the Swenson family Jessica Christensen (a 2004 Penn State alumna), Greg Swenson, Tanzola, Gary Swenson, and Kristan Winand.

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 until his death in 2006. Tanzola took up 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.

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.

“As a successful engineer and manufacturer, I found that an engineering lab is essential for proving that an equipment design is both practical and safe,” said Harvey Bradley. “Win (Winifred) and I are glad that we can make this part of the new engineering facility possible. We are honored and proud that it will bear our name.”

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. Fundraising for the project is ongoing, and gifts will count toward Penn State York’s goal in For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. The campaign is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State’s alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University’s tradition of quality. The campaign’s top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State’s history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

  • Penn State York's new engineering facility, the Raplh G. and Madeline B. Swenson Engineering Center, opens for classes later this month.

    IMAGE: Barbara Dennis

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 11, 2011