Engineering Groundbreaking, Dedication Events Mark That Division's Next Steps


posted October 26, 2017

A rendering of Pitt-Johnstown's new Chemical Engineering Building.

Pitt-Johnstown ushered in the next phase of its ever-growing engineering division with the launch of the Division of Engineering and Computer Science as well as the groundbreaking for a new Chemical Engineering Building on October 25, 2017.

“This is a special moment in the history of this institution,” said Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar. He and several area elected officials and business leaders used ceremonial shovels to break ground for the two-story, 7,000-square-foot chemical engineering school.

Events included:

  • New Chemical Engineering Building groundbreaking ceremony
  • John P. Murtha Engineering and Science Building dedication ceremony
  • Launch of the Division of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Reception, Open House
  • Keynote Speaker Jeff Krafve, Site General Manager, Shell Pennsylvania Chemical
  • Remarks by Rich Ragan, ’78, Executive Director of Global Facilities, Safety and Security for American Axel and Manufacturing.

Pitt-Johnstown's chemical engineering building will further the University’s responsiveness to chemical engineering workforce needs in the coming years. 

Mr. Krafve ssaid the Shell facility in Beaver County is just one piece of what promises to be a “century of opportunity” for western Pennsylvania, thanks to the sprawling Marcellus and Utica shale pockets that lie below, Krafve said.

Dr. Spectar noted that partnerships between Pitt-Johnstown’s engineering program and companies like Shell will help its reputation grow in the years to come. “When we say ‘Engineer Your Future,’ we’re not just talking about this institution and our students – but the entire region,” he said.

During the 2015 announcement of a transition to engineering from engineering technology, and the addition of a chemical engineering major, President Spectar said: “This transformational initiative has been a centerpiece of campus long-range planning for decades.

“Offering the highly sought-after engineering degree is essential to meet emerging workforce needs of the Johnstown community and our region, raise the institutional profile and strengthen student recruitment, and advance the campus mission of preparing students for success in the Real World.”

The Fall 2017 term at Pitt-Johnstown has been significant in that the number of incoming engineering students spiked by 24 percent, which augmented an overall enrollment increase of 10 percent. 

During the past two years, enrollment in the five engineering disciplines – chemical, civil, computer, electrical and mechanical – has grown by 33 percent to 610 students, said professor and Engineering Division Chair Jerry Samples, PhD and PE, who worked for years to expand the program from its roots as an engineering technology degree.

At the unveiling of the John P. Murtha Engineering and Science Building sign, Mr. Murtha’s widow, Joyce Murtha, said: “I know he’d be so proud of this moment and that the university is continuing to grow.” 

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown offers Bachelor of Science degrees in engineering for the following disciplines:

John P. Murtha Engineering and Science Building

Mrs. Murtha and President Spectar unveil the
John P. Murtha Engineering and Science Building sign.