New Kensington Digital Foundry receives Pa. grant to kick off Manufacturing Week

Individual looks at machine

Josh Stearman, automation and controls engineer at Penn State New Kensington's Digital Foundry and New Kensington campus alumnus, showcases the technology at the facility after the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) kicked off the commonwealth's Manufacturing Week, taking place Oct. 6-13. In addition, the DCED announced a new round of funding for the Digital Foundry to assist with increasing manufacturing skill sets through its training programs. 

Credit: Rebecca Dietrich

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — Gwen Ross, director of workforce development for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), celebrated “Manufacturing Week” on Oct. 6 by announcing a $200,000 grant to boost the skill sets of individuals participating in training at Penn State New Kensington's Digital Foundry at New Kensington.

Gov. Josh Shapiro proclaimed Manufacturing Week in Pennsylvania from Oct. 6-13 to recognize and highlight the vital role manufacturers have in making the commonwealth the sixth largest economy in the U.S.

Penn State New Kensington is receiving the new Manufacturing PA Training-to-Career (MTTC) grant to support the Digital Foundry’s learning programs. The 15,044-square-foot innovation and manufacturing lab space helps individuals and companies build future-ready awareness and skill sets for the manufacturing industry through exposure to state-of-the-art digital technologies.

“Manufacturing has always been the backbone of our economy, and Penn State New Kensington is the perfect place to kick off Manufacturing Week as the Shapiro administration works to make Pennsylvania an economic powerhouse,” said Ross. “Gov. Shapiro is passionate about giving Pennsylvanians more opportunities to follow their own path to success. Our investment in the Digital Foundry at New Kensington will help students learn the special skills they need to become leaders in the manufacturing industry.”

There are various levels of Penn State certificate training that can be attained at the Digital Foundry at New Kensington. Entry-level training covers the fundamentals of design and development, manufacturing, quality, industrial safety, and the building blocks of digital manufacturing. Other training includes components of digital manufacturing essentials as well as deeper dives for manufacturing professionals to learn more advanced techniques and skills. The Digital Foundry also provides FANUC-certified automation training covering programming and operation of industrial robots in manufacturing.

“DCED was the first agency to provide grant funding for our workforce training programs, and we are thrilled that they are continuing to support our goals here in southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Kevin Snider, chancellor of Penn State New Kensington. “We will be able to further strengthen and expand upon the success we’ve seen in our first 16 months through our Penn State certificate programs. Our Digital Foundry is just one shining example of our University’s impact and land-grant mission at work here in Pennsylvania.”

The Digital Foundry at New Kensington’s training programs were started in 2021 with help from a previous MTTC grant of $186,446. Nearly 100 students were trained through this initial round of the program, exceeding its initial target goal of 50 students. Other successes during the Foundry's first year of programming noted by Snider include:

  • Being awarded an estimated $11.5 million to date in grant funding and private foundation support.
  • Having a roster of Tech Partners, now totaling 16, who have committed about $6 million in in-kind software, hardware and service donations for the facility and participants.
  • Serving as one of the nation’s seven CESMII Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centers.

“We created the Digital Foundry, with our partners at the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland County, with support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, to be part of the growing ecosystem we’re developing here in New Kensington and southwestern Pennsylvania that aims to help address bringing a Rust Belt area into the Digital Age,” Snider said. “Penn State New Kensington is so very proud of the work that we continue to do in serving our University’s important land-grant mission in new, impactful and exciting ways, including here at the Foundry, where our goal is to support the region and commonwealth to provide training and education for the entire workforce pipeline — from elementary school through postsecondary education and current workers, as well as invest in manufacturing, by providing technology assessments and de-risking support, specifically for small- to mid-size manufacturers in our region.”

After the announcements, Ross, Snider and other guests toured the Digital Foundry to see its newest technology additions.

For more information about Manufacturing Week or the MTTC program, visit the DCED website and the department's Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn pages. For more information about the Digital Foundry, visit the Foundry's website and its Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn pages.