On the banks of the Susquehanna River, Harrisburg, the state capital of Pennsylvania in the US, is brimming with life and opportunities. In the heart of its downtown, you will find Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, one of the state’s leading STEM universities. With nearly 7,000 students hailing from 102 countries, the University has one of the most diverse student bodies among private colleges. At present, the University houses 5,326 international students, and among them, 2,928 are Indian students.
“Harrisburg University was founded to address the need of Pennsylvania’s capital region for increased educational opportunities in applied science and technology-related fields. Our vision is to provide academic programs at undergraduate and graduate levels for a diversity of learners, using student-centered, technologically advanced, and experiential learning designs that emphasize student success, with a sharp focus on specific interdisciplinary competencies and strong linkages to career development,” shares Dr. Eric Darr, President, Harrisburg University.
Harrisburg University’s campus is a thriving place surrounded by opportunities from vast dining options to diverse and exciting entertainment venues, including theatres, museums, sports fields, and more. Moreover, the internship opportunities available at Harrisburg University are plenty. “To further connect you to the city, every student receives a free membership to the Harrisburg Young Professionals group,” says Dr. Darr.
Already boasting a signature 16-story, $73 million state-of-the-art academic center, Harrisburg University recently broke ground on a second downtown education tower. The $100 million Health Science Education Center will accommodate at least an additional 1,000 students when completed. Dr. Darr adds, “It will feature health science classrooms and simulation laboratories, which support the university’s nursing, pharmaceutical sciences, and other allied health programs. The project also incorporates specialized laboratories dedicated to advanced manufacturing and digital media studies.”
Today, students long for an engaging learning experience, one filled with real-life and hands-on experiences. Meeting this imperative need of the student community and giving downright importance to experiential learning, Harrisburg University provides an exceptional and affordable STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education.
“Here, students are prepared to stand confidently in front of employers and demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have earned at Harrisburg University. Comprising students from 110 countries and boasting a 47 percent female student body in our graduate programs, we truly stand upon the pillars of progressiveness, excellence, and diversity,” Dr. Darr proudly says. All of this is why Corporate Live Wire recently named Harrisburg University of Science and Technology the #1 STEM University in the US for the third consecutive year.
The Indian Connections
Harrisburg is the home of a strong Indian population, which is driven by Indian entrepreneurs who settled in the area decades ago and now have become successful. Dr. Darr says, “Our campus hosts many Indian students who flock to find life-changing experiences and in-demand degrees. This helps us to provide a culturally enriched and vibrant environment, both inside and outside of the classroom.” Considering the challenges international students face while settling into a new country, Harrisburg University has appointed a Student Life Team, made up of members who help provide a smooth transition to the campus. The team oversees a Connections Program, which includes a Student Orientation and One-on-One Advising. Upon enrollment, each student is assigned a faculty advisor who helps them develop academic success strategies, including time management, study skills, career aptitude, decision making, and goal setting. “The idea is to make each student comfortable on campus and deliver a hands-on, experience-based education. For us, students are people, not just numbers,” pinpoints Dr. Darr.
Interestingly, 47.1 per cent of the university’s student population are from India. Rishabh Agarwal from New Delhi, who completed a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Clemson University and now is pursuing his M.S. in Computer Information Sciences from Harrisburg University, says, “I worked as a Senior Developer for Transunion, Chicago. I joined Harrisburg University because of its strong computer science graduate program. Unlike other programs, this program is more suited to current industry standards. I was able to get hands-on experience with a lot of technology that helped me grow in my job.” Rishab assures that the program is designed to challenge students, and for him, it is a lot of fun. He adds, “Apart from having a great program and professors, they also have great support for international students. I will recommend Harrisburg University to all of those who want to learn and stand out from the crowd.”
Manisha Anugu, who graduated from Harrisburg University with a Master of Science degree in Information Systems Engineering and Management in 2017, is now working with Agile Tal as a Java developer. Anugu said she chose to pursue her graduate degree at Harrisburg University because of its wide range of programs, and it also offers online classes. Harrisburg University offers an array of undergraduate and graduate programs that include majors in Advanced Manufacturing, Analytics, Biotechnology, Computer and Information Sciences, Geospatial Technology, Human-Centered Interaction Design and many more. Some of the more popular programs among the University’s Indian students include Project Management, Analytics, Information Systems Engineering and Management, Biotechnology, and Computer Information Sciences.
Another Indian student, Pushpinder Miglani from New Delhi, who completed a M.S. program in Project Management from Harrisburg University in December 2020, says, “My journey toward graduation from HU was amazing, and I found some very good friends here. I recommend Harrisburg University because of the great faculty and very nice campus.” In addition to providing a state-of-the-art campus filled with faculty who are leading experts in their field, Harrisburg University connects students to a great city and offers possibilities for an exciting STEM career. It is a thriving place overflowing with opportunities.
“Our STEM-focused curriculum establishes the foundation for a student experience at Harrisburg University unlike that found at any other private university. Guided by faculty who are respected leaders in their fields, our students transform the classroom education into careers that make a difference in the world,” states Dr. Darr. When students enroll, they become part of a diverse, vibrant community in which the school and city are partners in the pursuit of excellence for our students. From around the globe, students come here to broaden their knowledge, expand their horizons, explore the unknown, nurture their ideas, and grow into leaders.
Harrisburg University students enjoy high quality, affordable undergraduate student housing and resident life services in the heart of the capital city. Dr. Darr explains, “We are an entrepreneurial school with an environment that fosters learning outside of the classroom. Students are encouraged to get involved in organizations, clubs, interest groups, and sports groups to build skills that can be used in the long run. If students do not see anything of interest in the current groups on campus, they can take the initiative to start a new group on campus. And our varsity Esports team, the HU Storm, sets the standard in collegiate Esports.”
A Powerful Incubator of Ideas
Whether it involves developing an early-stage dementia detection tool, breaking down the cause of addictive behaviors, or discovering a previously unknown meteor strike, Harrisburg University encourages professors to harness their passions and team with students to launch breakthrough research projects that are changing the world around us. At Harrisburg University, teaching and research are not mutually exclusive. “Our students gain invaluable hands-on experience by working closely with faculty on research that instills critical reasoning skills, solves community problems, and propels economic development. Research at Harrisburg University leads to new technologies, commercial products, processes, intellectual properties, and so much more,” pinpoints Dr. Darr.
Experiential learning lies at the heart of Harrisburg University’s mission. From giving every student the opportunity to complete an internship and major curriculum project, the university’s professors are experts and the brightest minds in their fields who provide optimum real-world experience to students. Harrisburg University students complete internships with partner companies like Microsoft, Google, and Deloitte, to name a few. Harrisburg University also provides students with academic tools focused on their success. A few of these resources include SMARTHINKING, an online tutoring service that is free to all Harrisburg University students, along with a Technology Literacy Program and the Bridge Program.
Harrisburg University’s culture of inquiry has transformed it into an accomplished research institution. In fact, with the support of faculty, the research Harrisburg University students conduct is changing the world. Harrisburg University professors and students have teamed to develop new methods of producing skin grafts, new methods to measure pollution, advanced internet security methods and tools, and much more. “We embrace a culture of inquiry and innovation. It’s our mantra,” states Dr. Darr. Thanks to Harrisburg University’s experiential learning program and research students have the ability to contribute and help discover ceiling-shattering breakthroughs. The University’s graduates compete on a level playing field with seasoned job applicants because they have hands-on experience and know-how employers are looking for before they enter the workforce.
Unlike most schools, graduate and undergraduates at HU must tackle at least one experiential learning course and a hands-on applied project in their field before they graduate. Undergraduates also must complete an internship before earning their degrees. Harrisburg University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) allows students to innovate and flesh out their business ideas and projects that are touching and changing lives. One of the most popular programs of the CIE is the launchU “Shark Tank” style competition that allows students and others to showcase and get their great business ideas off the ground.
Similarly, Harrisburg University is home to numerous centers and institutes that allow its students to conduct groundbreaking research while providing experiential opportunities for students across a broad range of interests, issues and industries. Students and faculty members also work alongside government organizations and businesses to find solutions for real-world problems.
Making Education Affordable to All
“At Harrisburg University, we pride ourselves on providing students from historically underserved communities from around the world with an unmatched affordable private college education focused on the STEM fields. About 99 percent of our full-time undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid,” Dr. Darr said. The University considers every undergraduate student for a scholarship of between $6,000-$20,000. Harrisburg University offers one of the lowest private university tuitions in the entire state of Pennsylvania. However, offering an affordable price is only part of what Harrisburg University does to make attending college here financially attractive.
“We offer merit scholarships up to full tuition, and need-based grants up to full tuition, privately funded scholarships, low-interest loans, and work-study opportunities that allow students to earn money while they attend college,” explains Dr. Darr. In fact, these types of financial assistance are why Harrisburg University is ranked the #1 private university for awarding scholarship aid in the U.S.
Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history. Its impact on institutions like Harrisburg University that offers courses in the STEM fields has been significant. However, Harrisburg University saw pandemic disruption to learning as an opportunity to reimagine and revitalize education. “Many courses in the STEM fields include lab or field classes. Professors now must convert experiential learning, a key component of Harrisburg University education experience, to virtual experiences. STEM educators already rely heavily on technology, which benefitted schools like Harrisburg University, which was able to seamlessly switch to a completely online format as COVID-19 continued to grow,” says Dr. Darr.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic changed life as we know it, Harrisburg University has introduced numerous virtual resources to help support students during these unprecedented times. Student Services introduced a Virtual Student Union (VSU) portal where students can find resources and services and feel comfortable asking student success team members questions regarding academics online. “As the pandemic wanes, we will allow for a staged return to campus when it is deemed safe to do so. As some students remain in a remote learning status, many of the same mobile resources introduced during the pandemic will be available,” shares Dr. Darr. When the pandemic subsides completely, Harrisburg University will continue operating as the best STEM university in the US. “Our professors and staff will continue to innovate to support students. From harnessing the university’s 3D printers to conducting research, lending expertise, facilities, and more, Harrisburg University remains committed to its core educational mission,” concludes Dr. Darr.
For More Info: https://www.harrisburgu.edu/
About Dr Eric Darr
Dr. Eric Darr was named President of Harrisburg University of Science and Technology by the Board of Trustees effective May 9, 2013. He previously served as interim president, and prior to that, he served as a consultant to help create Harrisburg University. Dr. Darr joined the University full-time as the founding Vice President of Finance and Administration. He also has served as a member of the faculty, was Executive Vice President, and Provost.
Under his leadership, Harrisburg University’s enrollment has grown from 500 to nearly 7,000 students. The university also added 33 new graduate and undergraduate concentrations and degree programs. Faculty have secured many grants and student scholarship support throughout Dr. Darr’s term, and the University’s Market Street Tower was completed, adding more classrooms and laboratory space to meet the needs of growing academic programs and enrollment.
Dr. Darr has opened two facilities and is presently securing a third. One of the new facilities is in center-city Philadelphia. And, in 2019, the university broke ground on a $100 million Health Science Education Center in downtown Harrisburg, a project Dr. Darr has spearheaded to address the growing need for healthcare professionals throughout Central Pennsylvania.