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Remade Lab Called Commitment to Region, Future

Building is largest construction project in Penn State McKeesport history

By Siana Emery
The Tube City Almanac
September 10, 2021
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Penn State Greater Allegheny students discuss their research with University President Eric J. Barron at the Ostermayer Laboratory on the McKeesport campus during Thursday’s open house. (Penn State University photo via Facebook)

Three years, one pandemic and $14 million later, a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday marked the official completion of the renovated Ostermayer Laboratory at Penn State Greater Allegheny Campus.

The largest construction project in the history of the McKeesport campus, the renovation brings brand-new laboratory and safety equipment, modernized teaching and research spaces, improved classroom and collaboration spaces and an enhanced entrance and lobby space to the building, which was originally constructed in 1973.

Penn State President Eric J. Barron and Jacqueline Edmondson, Greater Allegheny chancellor and chief academic officer, presided over the ceremony. They were joined by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko, State Rep. Austin Davis and state Sen. Jim Brewster.

Local, state and Penn State officials cut the ribbon to formally dedicate the renovated Ostermayer Laboratory. (Penn State University photo via Facebook)

“The Ostermayer Laboratory is a symbol of both hope and promise,” said Edmondson. “It represents Penn State’s commitment to education, and the sciences, and its investment in the Monongahela River Valley. The fact that this building was completely renovated during a global pandemic and a period of political and civic unrest in the United States further underscores the importance of the work that will happen in and through this building”

The re-design of the building includes features which will reduce energy consumption of the campus, with the goal of becoming LEED-certified, Penn State officials said.

Like Edmondson, other speakers also highlighted the value of the renovation as an investment in the future of the local community.

Barron said Pennsylvania, the nation and the world,need highly trained individuals to work on the challenging problems facing the world, such as public health, food and water security, energy and the environment, and economic development.

“Solving these challenges is going to require collaboration across disciplines and a lot of innovative techniques,” said Barron. “This building was designed to foster interactions and the science to make solutions to those problems possible.”

Student ambassadors led tours through state-of-the-art labs and classrooms, flooded with natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows, where students in STEM programs led demonstrations and activities to discuss their work and show the new spaces in action.

Korrine McCutcheon, a second-year student studying Biobehavioral Health and Neuroscience, is taking full advantage of the renovated building. She is a member of the undergraduate research team in the SECURE lab, giving her the opportunity to work directly with professors in ongoing research projects.

“I am super, super grateful to have this opportunity to work with such cool equipment,” said McCutcheon. “Compared with what we worked with in our temporary lab set up last year, it’s so nice. I’m really excited about what we can do with this in the future.”

Faculty and students began to use the space on Aug. 23, first day of the fall semester. Andrea Stevens, assistant professor of microbiology, is teaching some of the inaugural classes in the updated space.

“It’s a really warm, welcoming environment,” she said, adding that the top-notch equipment and inviting space create a conducive environment for learning. “[Students] love it, and they love coming to class. All the feedback has been so positive, especially for those who’ve been in the old Ostermeyer building. Those students are blown away.”

Campus and local officials called the 22,000 square foot building an investment in the future of the region and its young people.

“We work together for the betterment of the quality of life and the economic vitality of this region,” said Fitzgerald. “This investment is being made today.”

Siana Emery is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh’s South Hilltop. She has also written for The Mennonite World Review, Goshen College Communications and Marketing and The Goshen College Record. She may be reached at sianaemery@gmail.com.

Originally published September 10, 2021.

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