$1M bequest to support Multi-Campus Research Experience for Undergraduates

Megan Lakatos
February 19, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – A Penn State electrical engineering alumnus has made an estate commitment of $1 million to create the Pogoda Excellence Fund in the College of Engineering to support the college’s Multi-Campus Research Experience for Undergraduates (MC REU).

The alumnus was motivated to create the fund in order to provide a mechanism for integrating experience into the educational process. Working as a technician in his high school’s audio-visual lab and at Penn State in a Department of Electrical Engineering research laboratory, he applied what he learned in class to solve problems and build equipment.

These out-of-the-classroom activities made him realize that while the classroom builds skills and a body of knowledge, true experience is gained when those skills and knowledge are put to use. In addition, experience advances critical thinking, as students must adapt and extrapolate what they have learned to solve new and complex problems which simply are not taught in school.

In no small part thanks to his parents, he is in a position to advance his philosophy by providing an opportunity to students to advance their knowledge by adding practical experience to their academic curriculum through the MC REU program.

Created in 2015, the MC REU was designed to encourage undergraduate students from Penn State Commonwealth Campuses to participate in research early in their academic program to broaden their education and increase their chances of entering graduate studies, and to promote mutual awareness and collaboration among faculty across the commonwealth.

Over the summer months, selected students conduct research with two Penn State faculty members – one from the student’s home campus and one based at University Park. Participants split their time between University Park, where they have access to high-end laboratory resources, and their home campus, where they can conduct literature reviews, analyze data or report on results.

The program also includes workshops focused on team building, conducting academic research, applying to graduate school and succeeding in the professional world; tours of University Park research facilities; and outings to cultural destinations throughout State College. The MC REU concludes with a research symposium, where students present the results of their summer research.

“The MC REU program is an important program that serves multiple missions within Penn State,” said Justin Schwartz, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering. “First and foremost, it provides a world-class research experience for Penn State students at the Commonwealth Campuses, opening their eyes to their own creative potential. Second, for students in 2+2 programs and coming to University Park (UP) for their junior and senior years, it gives them an early UP experience that will assist with their transition. Lastly, but also of great value, the MC REU program builds relationships between the faculty at University Park and those at the Commonwealth Campuses, which will last well beyond the MC REU program period. This generous gift will help advance the MC REU program, and ensure that it continues to thrive for many years to come.”

This gift will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

Last Updated February 21, 2019