tecBRIDGE Innovation Conference

Innovation Conference Academic Track

Colleges and Employers: A Partnership as Sweet as Ben & Jerry’s – Building a Cooperative Education Program

Are you an employer looking for a way to bring fresh young talent into your workplace? Are you a student who would like to graduate with a diploma and a resumé with up to one full year of workplace experience? Penn State Schuylkill Co-Op is a win-win partnership with employers dedicated to bringing the classroom and workplace together in some of the most sought-after areas! In this session, we will discuss the benefits of cooperative education for students, employers, and the regional workforce.

Dr. Patrick M. Jones

Professor of Music and Chancellor of
Penn State Schuylkill

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Kate S. Zimmerman

Director of Cooperative Education
Penn State Schuylkill

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The Language of Water 

Researchers from Misericordia University are translating the science of local water quality monitoring into practical steps to help land owners ”hear” what their wetlands are telling them. Through different programs, including remote real-time monitoring of a pristine wetlands area and monthly monitoring in a lake and stream ecosystem, researchers are working to educate community members about the importance of clean watersheds. And, as an added bonus, undergraduate students gain valuable experience working side-by-side with experienced faculty as part of the University’s Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, an excellent preparation for graduate school or to enter the workforce. Business leaders, educators and students can learn more about this practical research and progressive learning model to identify ways to partner with and participate in these educational experiences.

Dr. Cosima Wiese

Professor in Biology Department  at Misericordia University

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Digital Credentials as a Superior Signaling Mechanism in

the Hiring Process

Employers struggle to find the best candidate for a job because of friction in the hiring process. Hiring friction results from complexities with conveying information about skills.  Conveying knowledge about a skill is difficult because of lacking standards for skillsets, variations in terminology, and understanding which skills should be communicated.  Other factors not related to skills, such as resume length, grammar, and formatting issues, create additional friction in the process.  If any aspects of the resume are perceived to be incorrect, then the hiring manager discards it. On average, a hiring manager makes this analysis in under ten seconds.

The use of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), automated systems commonly used to vet prospects, has further complicated the problem.  ATS use specific parameters to identify ideal candidates.  One study published in 2021 noted that 88% of employers indicated that qualified high-skill candidates were eliminated from contention because they did not meet the criteria noted in the ATS.

Ultimately, employers are not effective at advertising the skills they need, and job seekers are not good at communicating the skills they have.  Digital credentials are a mechanism that can solve hiring friction.  Digital credentials are sometimes referred to as digital certificates, digital badges, micro credentials, among other names.  These terms are generally synonymous and used interchangeably.  Digital credentials are electronic systems that verify the existence of skills. Credly, an organization that provides a digital credentialling platform, calls digital credentials a “common language of verified skills”.  Current research is attempting to determine how effectively digital credentials can reduce hiring friction.

Frank M. Sorokach

Faculty Member at Penn State
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NFTs in EDU: Acronym Soup or a Recipe for Success?

There is a new renaissance in the world of the arts and institutes of higher education are paying attention. NFTs (or non-fungible tokens) are changing the traditional marketplace by creating opportunities for designers and businesses to create and sell digital assets through the metaverse.  

Alvernia University is taking this concept one step further by connecting students with traditional industries to revolutionize mainstream business.  

Katie Hestor

of Alvernia University’s O’Pake Institute
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Energizing Engineers for the Renewable Future

A global energy transition is underway as the world shifts from mostly centralized, fossil fueled energy generation facilities toward use of distributed, renewable energy resources like solar and wind. This transition will impose many technical, economic and social challenges that must be met in the coming decades. A unique Alternative Energy and Power Generation Engineering program was developed at Penn State Hazleton to prepare the next generation of engineers who will be at the forefront, facing these challenges and working to keep the lights on for everyone.  

Understanding renewables requires a multidisciplinary approach. Our program combines coursework traditionally associated with mechanical and electrical engineering domains to provide the broad foundation of knowledge these graduates will need. We have assembled a group of faculty whose research expertise complements the renewable energy focus and provides opportunities for related undergraduate research and other extracurricular engagement. We’ve also developed a program of industry engagement that supports students as they develop career competencies and transition to professionals in the workplace.  

This session will include a discussion on some of our successes and challenges in launching this multidisciplinary program, some of the exciting research and design projects our students have already completed and highlight some of our opportunities and hopes for the future.  

Dr. Joseph Ranalli

Associate professor of engineering, Penn State Hazleton
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RISE from Poverty While Answering the Nation’s Skill Gap

Right now there are over 7,000 jobs to be filled just in NEPA, and as our current workforce
pushes toward retirement that number will only grow. Originated through the unique partnership
among Johnson College, United Neighborhood Centers, the Institute, and The William G.
McGowan Charitable Fund, RISE offers a life-changing opportunity for individuals affected by
systemic inequities to earn the education needed to step into these in-demand careers. The
RISE Team will discuss how this workforce development program is unlike any before, and how
it can have a massive, positive impact on our region.

Dr. Katie Leonard

President of johnson college
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Lisa Durkin

Chief Executive Officer of United Neighborhood Centers and United Neighborhood Community Development Corporation
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Liz Finley

Program director of rise (Readiness in skilled employment)
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Dr. Kelyn Williams

Associate Vice president of special programs at Johnson college
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BARCO Technology in Business School Labs: What Timing!

Dr. J.C. Blewitt will present on the innovative use of technology in the classroom at the McGowan School of Business at King’s College. The college formed a partnership with BARCO technologies (a company based in Belgium) in 2016. They were looking for beta sites in the U.S. for some of their wireless conferencing technology. King’s became the pilot site for this innovative equipment, and the initial lab went live in 2018. Since its initial installation, King’s has added a second lab, a state-of-the-art data wall, and video recording capabilities in these innovative spaces.

This technology proved invaluable when the pandemic hit, allowing business school faculty to retain a live, in-person relationship with their students. Corporate partners and other schools have since visited King’s as they were in the process of installing their own custom solutions.  

Dr. J.C. Blewitt of King’s College

Associate Professor of Management at the McGowan School of Business, King’s College

Dr. J.C. Blewitt is an Associate Professor of Management at the McGowan School of Business, King’s College. He teaches Marketing, Accounting, International Business, and Senior Seminar. J.C. is a 2007 graduate of King’s, a 2009 graduate of the University of Scranton (MBA), and a 2014 graduate of Saint Louis University (PhD). His research interests include marketing strategy, consumer behavior, non-profit marketing, and culture. Recently, he has co-authored two articles with undergraduate students thanks to the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at King’s. He resides in Kingston with his wife Meghan, and their two kids and dogs.  

Taking the BPC Model International

Chris is currently chairing a Committee of the Accreditation Council of Business Schools and Special Programs (ACBSP). The ACBSP has over 1,200 members in 60 countries. Chris is leading the charge to develop an international Business Plan Competition with local, regional, and international components that will culminate in eleven (11) section finalists from across the globe competing next year in Chicago for major cash and investment opportunities. Chris will be using a number of guidelines, insights, and lessons learned from our twenty years of Competitions to make this a showcase initiative.

Dr. Chris Speicher

Executive Director of School of Business and Global Innovation at Marywood University
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