E-Knowledge Commons Campaign Off to a Strong Start


By Shea Bracken

A campaign to raise funds for a collaborative space for mechanical and nuclear engineering students is off to a strong start thanks to support from industry partners and alumni.

The E-Knowledge Commons campaign kicked off this summer with a very generous gift of $100,000 from an anonymous mechanical engineering graduate. This gift will allow the department to move forward with the building stage of the project. In addition, five companies—Phillips 66 Company, Talen Energy Corporation, Bechtel Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and Exelon Corporation—have each pledged contributions to name a space within the E-Knowledge Commons.

The E-Knowledge Commons project will provide a student-centered space designed for peer-to-peer learning in Reber Building. The space will give mechanical and nuclear engineering students a place to work in teams across a variety of study spaces, while having easy access to technology and other resources.

The E-Knowledge Commons will be equipped with individual and group study areas to foster collaboration as well as private meeting rooms outfitted with state-of-the-art computer and video conferencing systems to enhance global interactions and learning. The space will also have two computer labs, laptop plug-in stations, and modular furniture that can be moved to create an open space for lectures and other events.

“Part of what we try to teach our students to do well is to work in teams,” said Karen Thole, department head of mechanical and nuclear engineering. “A key goal of the project is to build a sense of community among mechanical and nuclear engineering students and to give them a space to engage in peer-to-peer learning.”

The estimated cost of the project is $1.5 million. If you are interested in supporting the E-Knowledge Commons, visit the project’s website for more information and naming opportunities. Your support will help give students easy access to cutting-edge technology as well as an inspiring space to meet, study, and learn.

Penn State’s alumni and friends are invaluable partners in fulfilling the University’s land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom; expand the research and teaching capacity of our faculty; enhance the University’s ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty; and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. The University’s colleges and campuses are now enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives.


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Shea Bracken


“A key goal of the project is to build a sense of community among mechanical and nuclear engineering students and to give them a space to engage in peer-to-peer learning.”


Susan Bohna



The Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State is one of the nation’s largest and most successful engineering departments. We serve more than 1,000 undergraduate students and more than 330 graduate students

We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S., M.Eng.) graduate degrees in nuclear engineering and mechanical engineering. MNE's strength is in offering hands-on experience in highly relevant research areas, such as energy, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems.

Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519