GREAT Program students and staff wear bright yellow vests and white hard hats while visiting a Massaro construction site

Spotlight on the GREAT Program

This unique program, available exclusively at Penn State New Kensington, prepares engineering and IST students for the workforce with specialized out of class activities and workshops.
This unique program for engineering and IST students is available only at Penn State New Kensington.

We started the G.R.E.A.T. Program in 2011 with just one student intern and one corporate partner.

Since then, the program has grown every year.

Today, there are over 14 student internship participants and more than 17 corporate partners in the Growing Regional Excellence through Experience, Academics and Training Program at Penn State New Kensington. 

The GREAT Program supplements students’ in-class education with things like site visits and mock interviews with local corporate partners in the Pittsburgh area. GREAT also prepares them for the workforce through a unique soft-skills workshop series provided by our own staff and faculty, as well as industry leaders and engineering and technology professionals.

Workshops are held several times a semester and cover a variety of important topics, such as:

  • Interview Etiquette and Networking
  • Communication Skills
  • Becoming a Technology and Engineering Professional
  • Expectations from Employers
  • Project Management

After all of this preparation, students then have the opportunity to interview for and possibly earn internships with some of these corporate partners. The internships are part-time during the fall and spring semesters (10 hours/week), and turn into full-time internships (40 hours/week) during each summer.

The GREAT Program was designed for engineering students, and has now expanded to include Information Science & Technology (IST) majors. Unlike many other programs, the GREAT Program encourages students to gain experience as early as possible in their academic careers – even as early as their first year of college.

“Involvement in the GREAT Program is so rewarding," said Sarah Conte, co-coordinator of the GREAT Program. "It’s an honor to assist these students with professional development and to watch them grow–both personally and professionally–over the course of their first year of college."

Students that stay at Penn State New Kensington as they earn their baccalaureate degree can participate in the GREAT Program for up to all 4 of those years as long as they maintain eligibility.

Other students might be part of the “2+2 Plan,” which is when students begin their studies at Penn State New Kensington and then move to another campus after two years to complete their degrees. Students in the 2+2 Plan can easily complete the first year of professional development opportunities, and employers know that interns who transfer to other Penn State campuses are likely to return to their companies each summer.

“The GREAT Program has given me the incredible opportunity to work with an international company and learn first-hand how projects go from planning to design to finished project. It has been so rewarding to see projects I have worked on be successfully completed,” said Justin, a junior mechanical engineering student and GREAT Program intern.


Learn more about the GREAT Program >>