SHARON — Penn State Shenango celebrated the $8.5 million upgrades to its STEM classroom building Wednesday.

Forker Lab was built in 1968 as the first new building added to a campus that started out in what was once a school in Sharon City School District.

Until the recently completed project, there have not been any major renovations to the building.

That project was about a year in the making, were all done to the inside of the building.

“Everything was focused on improving the classroom experience for our students,” said Chuck Greggs, director of enrollment. “Really focused on that flow in the classroom by making more interaction between the faculty members and the students.”

Upgrades included the addition of LED lighting, better study and classroom spaces, more comfortable seating and newer whiteboards. In the engineering lab, there is a new home for the lab’s scanning electron microscopes and 3D printers.

“It really made a better environment for our faculties as well as our students,” Greggs said.

He said Penn State University as a whole produces more STEM graduates than any other university in the country. At the Shenango campus, officials wanted to follow in that area.

“So we were really trying to increase the STEM opportunities for our students,” Greggs said. “Attract more students locally into STEM programs.”

Penn State Shenango boasts a nursing program that partners with Sharon Regional Health System, along with physical therapy assistant and occupational therapy assistant programs. The school also recently added health policy administration and cyber security programs.

“Adding some new degrees is always a great opportunity for us to increase our enrollment,” Greggs said. “For us to have nice, bright, new learning facilities that these students feel comfortable with, they’re more likely to be successful here.”

Follow Melissa Klaric on twitter @HeraldKlaric or email her at mklaric@sharonherald.com

Follow Melissa Klaric on twitter @HeraldKlaric or email her at mklaric@sharonherald.com

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Melissa has been a news reporter for The Herald since 2013, covering breaking news, northern Mercer County, Sharon City schools and education. She is a 1992 graduate of Youngstown State University with a Bachelor of Arts in communications.