Penn State Intercom......June 6, 2002

Grants open way to
expand PA FutureConnect

Two new grants -- totaling $102,300 -- are opening the way for an expansion of the School of Information Sciences and Technology's PA FutureConnect, a work-experience program for the school's students that also helps solve work-force shortage problems for high-tech companies.

Announcement of the grants, one of $52,300 from the Stay Invent the Future program and one of $50,000 from the Team Pennsylvania Foundation, comes on the heels of the successful completion of PA FutureConnect's pilot year of operation in the State College and York regions.

"During 2001-2002, PA FutureConnect provided 25 of our students the kind of workplace exposure they need to become better professionals," said James B. Thomas, dean of the School of Information Sciences and Technology (IST). "At the same time, 16 companies benefited from the expanding expertise of highly motivated, future IT managers."

PA FutureConnect had its beginnings last fall in State College and York, where the school collaborated with the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County and the York County Economic Development Corp., respectively. The Ben Franklin Partnership provided the financial support necessary to launch the program.

The program not only connects qualified students with prospective employers, it helps support the students' salaries -- offering a break for startup and emerging firms. Students work 10 to 15 hours a week during the academic year.

"The new funding will allow us to further deploy FutureConnect in Pennsylvania's south-central region," said Jan Mahar, program coordinator. "Beginning in July, we will undertake initiatives in the Harrisburg area in cooperation with Penn State Harrisburg and the Harrisburg Area Community College, while strengthening the existing program in York. We also will build on the important success we've had in the State College region."

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