CoverStory: Harrisburg University

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Unfolding the Secrets of Preparing the Next-Gen Global Leaders

In recent years, STEM, which collectively stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, have turned into a watchword in the education arena. From students to faculty and researchers, everyone is vouching for the fact that STEM is the need of the hour, with the potentiality of bringing an evolution in how education is being absorbed and imparted. Understanding the demand of STEM in the coming years and having a strong quench for obtaining a quality STEM education, Rohit Singh- born and brought up in the ‘Pink City’ of India, Jaipur, took the call to join Harrisburg University (HU), which is quite popular for offering a wide range of STEM programs.

Rohit, who had completed his Bachelor’s in Management in India and later pursued a Master’s of Science in Project Management from HU, says, “Currently working with Delloite, it is imperative to mention that HU’s contribution in shaping my career has been impeccable. The university offers a very welcoming and warm environment to all of its students, especially to those coming from foreign countries. Also, because the STEM-centric, it enables  students to get an additional two years of OPT extension after completing a degree, which is like the cherry on the cake for overseas students.”

An exclusively STEM-focused university, HU was established in 2001 to conduct innovative academic and research programs in science and technology that respond to local and global needs. Presently, HU has 6,000 international students registered in different courses, and the university always has been a prime destination for a good number of Indian students. “HU’s campus is fueled with a vibrant and huge community of Indian students, letting the new students from India adjust smoothly. The faculty members of the university as well are quite friendly with whom the students can share their queries anytime,” pinpoints Rohit. Sustaining a commendable professor-to-student ratio of 18:1, each student at HU is not just number. All students are known by their names, which inevitably opens the door for them to gain personal attention and educational experience which is second to none.

Molding Achievers

Dr. Eric Darr, President, HU of Science and Technology, shares, “Through relentless dedication and persistence, HU over the years has built an incomparable and strong reputation both nationally and internationally. We undertake a lot of efforts in enabling our international students to receive an abroad educational experience that they might have imagined while leaving their home country.” Engrossed with a well-designed curriculum and outstanding teaching methodologies, the teaching-learning process of the university is one of the many features that is been highly appreciated. The university hosts many undergraduate and graduate programs amidst the in-demand specializations like Analytics, Biotechnology, Computer and Information Sciences, Geospatial Technology and Human-Centered Interaction Design, to name a few. At HU, all of the programs employ high-end teaching practices which mostly consist of practical and competency-based learning. Team assignments, reports, presentations, working on projects and so on, are some of the techniques through which the students of HU generally are taught.

This kind of education helps HU students gain an edge with employers by being able to apply their real-time learning experiences at their respective workplaces. “Owing to the well-rounded education that HU offers the students paves their way to enriching careers. On top of it, to provide one-to-one career guidance to our students, HU has been endowed with an Office of Career Services, thus making it easy for the students to get access to the best possible career opportunities,” proudly says Steven Infanti, Associate Vice President of Marketing, Communications, HU. In the line of practice-based learning, HU students also are required to complete an internship of at least 135 hours in their field, which often is highly acknowledged by the employers.

Exemplifying the true sense of effective teaching and learning, only a student of HU will be able to experience how this type of experiential learning. Keeping experiential learning at its heart, HU motivates its students to spend more time in their fields, rather than just sitting inside a classroom and listen to boring lectures. They are empowered to undergo internships with partner companies like Microsoft, Google and Deloitte, and many more, where they get to see the realities of the professional world, which prepares them to contribute productively at their workplaces. These rigorous training and hands-on experiences add substantial credentials to the resumes of the students- ample enough to qualify their dream jobs where they will be able to perform from day one. “HU also renders students with academic tools focused on their success. A few of these resources include SMARTHINKING, an online tutoring service that is free to all HU students, along with a Technology Literacy Program and the Bridge Program,” mentions Dr. Darr.

Where Students are Priority

Ranked as the number one private university for awarding scholarship aid in the U.S, HU is also widely known for offering an affordable education. This fact largely attracts the international students, making it a win-win situation for them, where they can obtain a globally valued degree without investing a fortune for it. “Being a preferred destination for international students since its inception, the university, comprehending the financial constraints of the students coming from less developed countries, offers a scholarship of between $6,000-full tuition, which is received by 100 percent of our full-time undergraduate students. HU boasts one of the lowest private university tuitions in the entire state of Pennsylvania,” highlights Dr. Darr. The scholarships provided are classified into varied grounds i.e. merit scholarships up to full tuition, merit and need-based grants up to full tuition, privately funded scholarships, low-interest loans, and work-study opportunities that allow students to earn money whilst they attend college.

“Apart from the financial help, HU has  an International Student Association, which assists international students in different aspects of their personal and academic lives There is also a Student Life team taking the responsibility of overseeing our Connections Program that comprises Student Orientation and One-on-One Advising,” says Steven Infanti. The students are further boosted through designating a faculty advisor who takes care of advising them regarding time management, study skills, career aptitude, decision making and so on. Dr. Darr adds, “HU is a proud sponsor and supports India Day, an annual community fair held around the second week of August, allowing our Indian students to attend  it every year.”

Blend of Curricular and Co-Curricular Activities

Adorned with 18th- and 19th-century buildings, picturesque views and popular tourist spots, Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, is a beautiful and calm city with a host of friendly people. The city is well- connected and in very close proximity to New York and Washington, D.C., giving students of  HU the flexibility to explore more places and meet new people. “Housing students from around 110 countries and having a 44 percent female student body, the university prides itself on demonstrating diversity progressiveness and excellence within the campus. “These values undoubtedly translate into our students as well, enabling them to develop as a holistic human being,” shares Dr. Darr. The HU campus boasts outstanding facilities and infrastructure, including the Agile Lean Center,  the Analytics Institute, the Center for Environment, Energy and Economy, and the Center for Advanced Entertainment and Learning Technologies, to just name a few.

Not only designed to support academics, HU’s campus has also been equipped for co-curricular activities. In fact, to encourage students to participate in sports, the university has become a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), which has helped the university offer Esports as the University’s first–and-only varsity sport. Steven Infanti shares, “The program is nationally ranked with teams competing in League of Legends, Overwatch and Hearthstone.”

Gateway to Opportunities

Expanding its global network, HU always strives to seek proactive global outreach and build relationships with top institutions. Apart from having collaborations with esteemed educational institutions from around the world, the university has established partnerships with a range of Indian educational institutions such as Ryan International Group of Institutions, one of India’s largest private educators, and Mumbai University and Ruia College in India to offer 2+2 and graduate programs. “Having the privilege of being associated with such Indian institutes, we at HU are well aware of Indian student needs and aspirations, which extensively helps us to fulfill the dreams of our Indian student population in the university,” says Steven Infanti.

Studies suggest that Indian students mostly flock to a foreign country for experiencing the research facilities available in a handful of prestigious universities abroad. And HU is an accomplished research institution with a record of completing numerous successful research projects and impacting the world in a better way. However, as it is said that a university’s success is its ability to help industry with innovations, inventions, and a work-ready workforce, HU stands strong in this regard by enabling 92 percent of its highly-skilled graduates to land jobs in their fields or enroll in graduate school within six months of graduation.

Dr. Eric Darr, President

Chairing the position of President at HU. Under Dr. Darr’s leadership, the university has expanded to include a Philadelphia location, and recently welcomed its largest class of new students in its history. Under his leadership, the university is driving economic development in the region through the launch of multiple high profile e-Sports tournaments, concerts, and conventions. Additionally, Dr. Darr is overseeing the construction of the university’s new 17-story Health Science Education Center , which will provide learning space for at least an additional 1,000 students.