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Gannon University Celebrates Dedication of The Hatchery Within I-HACK

Published: 09/17/2021

Dedication of The Hatchery at Gannon University’s Institute for Health and Cyber Knowledge

Dedication of The Hatchery at Gannon University’s Institute for Health and Cyber Knowledge

Gannon University formally opened The Hatchery at the Institute for Health and Cyber Knowledge during a dedication ceremony today.

The ceremony marked the culmination of phase two of the university’s transformation of I-HACK into a home where students in Gannon’s academic programs are already working with leaders in business to design, integrate and protect cybernetic intelligence and data systems worldwide.

"We are so proud to be here today as we officially dedicate The Hatchery within the Institute for Health and Cyber Knowledge," said President Keith Taylor, Ph.D. "The work that will be done here will complement that of our first two floors, which are dedicated to the educational training of our students in cybersecurity and cyber engineering. This floor will bring that knowledge and ingenuity to life and apply it to create real-world solutions to challenges facing the industry today. We are eagerly looking forward to the great work we know our students, faculty and community partners will develop here together."

Gannon’s $3.9 million investment into phase two of the project was matched by investments by corporate partners to make The Hatchery a reality on I-HACK’s third floor. In this space, students will develop new ideas to protect cyber intelligence and bring them to life in a collaborative innovation space that integrates industry and professional development with academic creativity and learning.

The floor houses two classrooms, open collaborative spaces, conference and other multi-purpose meeting spaces, and new cutting-edge laboratories. These include the Maker Lab, Knight Studios, Project Studios, the Idea Lab, and The Network Lab & GIS Center.

The Maker Lab services faculty and student projects in rapid prototyping using cutting-edge lasers, laser scanners and an array of soldering tools. High-end video production equipment and sewing and embroidering machines are also available for students completing senior design and creative projects.

The Knight Studios are home to the interdisciplinary senior design capstone projects completed by engineering and business students. These spaces provide quiet rooms for students to ideate, collaborate and innovate. Four of the Knight Studios include large workbenches and toolkits for students to design and build prototypes.

The Project Studios are dedicated to students and faculty who are applying their skills and expertise to projects and contract work with external companies. Students participating in these partnerships opportunities will receive training from industry experts and gain real-world experience in innovative fields of interest.

The Idea Lab, funded by Erie Insurance, is the thought center of The Hatchery and home to Gannon’s minor in innovation and creativity. The lab is enhanced by two 86-inch monitor displays and an interactive 75-inch Avocor touch display at the front of the room, in addition to remote learning and video conferencing capabilities.

The Network Lab & GIS Center serves as a new base for Gannon’s geographic information systems courses. This discipline synthesizes expertise from fields like environmental science and engineering, industrial engineering, public policy, freshwater and marine biology, and criminal justice to help students develop proficiency in digital map-making and geospatial management and technologies.

"Students will have access to innovative classrooms and laboratories that offer space to ideate, collaborate, participate in partnerships, receive training from industry experts, use high-end technologies and more," said Karinna Vernaza, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Engineering and Business. "It is inspiring as we witness the impact that elevating our academic excellence through this facility and the resources accompanied with it are already having on our students as they become the next generation of leaders and cyber professionals to transform the industry."

The University has already welcomed students to begin learning within The Hatchery through several innovative academic programs and courses, including computing and senior design courses, as well as courses for the Minor in Innovation and Creativity that brings together students from across disciplines to explore their innate creativity and formulate real-world solutions to societal problems. 

As of Fall 2021, Gannon offers six courses in The Hatchery to more than 90 students across multiple disciplines. The second-floor Pierre McCormick Cyber Learning Center – which opened in Spring 2021 to more than 80 students – has also grown to welcome more than 290 students to learn in 25 courses this semester.

The development of The Hatchery also includes several exciting partnerships with local and global companies, including two previously announced: Extreme Networks, a leading provider of network infrastructure equipment and services for global enterprises and data centers and service providers, as well as Erie Insurance, our region’s largest employer.

The university has partnered with additional companies who will have dedicated Project Studios space within The Hatchery. These include global companies UNISHKA and Aurora Worldwide Development Corp., as well as regional-based MCPc Inc. and Ben Franklin Technology Partners. Students will have opportunities to work with these companies through research, projects and internships that provide real-world value. The partnerships will also serve as talent-spotting opportunities to further career tracks and job placement for students upon graduation.

Gannon’s investment into phase two of I-HACK’s development is made possible by these collaborative partnerships, as well as to the generosity of many community and individual donors who have shown tremendous support for the university. Among the many contributions recognized at today’s ceremony was a $110,000 grant from the George I. Alden Trust that was used to create The Network Lab & GIS Center. A $300,000 Appalachian Regional Commission Area Development Grant also contributed toward the creation of the Maker Lab, as well as the Fabrication Lab that is being developed on the fourth floor.

"I am truly inspired by the leadership of our community partners who have not only supported the vision of this venture, but will continue to be active collaborators moving forward. We are truly humbled by and deeply grateful for your generosity and support," said Walter Iwanenko, Ph.D., provost and vice president of student experience.

In total, Gannon anticipates renovations to I-HACK to cost $28 million and has invested over $15 million to the project to date.

Looking ahead, the university will continue developing I-HACK’s remaining floors with Gannon’s recent announcement on the development of the fourth floor to create a Center for Manufacturing and Technology.

Watch a recording of the livestreamed Hatchery Dedication at Gannon’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gannonu

For more information about I-HACK and to watch a virtual tour, visit: https://www.gannon.edu/ihack.aspx