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Education Focus: Higher Learning Meets Current Demands for Workplace Skills

Featured Stories

Higher education institutions in the Pittsburgh region know exactly what it takes for students to lead the way in growth industries here and around the world. From health care to data analytics and everything in between, curriculum is being deployed to fit the current and future needs of Pittsburgh’s top employers across multiple industries.

Besides offering the latest skills, colleges and universities are offering a customized and flexible education curriculum for students balancing a job or family responsibilities. TEQ surveyed top local schools on new/popular curriculum driving students to their physical or virtual classrooms.

Carlow Unveils New College of Professional Studies

Carlow University is excited to announce the 2018 launch of the College of Professional Studies. In addition to the traditional role of higher education to provide a strong “entry-level” workforce, Carlow has recognized the critical role of adult education to meet the region’s workforce capability demands.

The College of Professional Studies reflects a dedicated focus on the needs of the adult learner as they seek to advance their capabilities and careers through degree, certification and continuing professional education.  Adult learners, who are often balancing work and family responsibilities with their studies, have unique needs and face difficult challenges as they seek to build new skills.

Dr. James Ice, the Dean of this new college, explained: “In partnership with regional employers, our objective is to be responsive in providing targeted educational offerings to meet the region’s evolving workforce needs while providing an innovative learning experience, flexible enough to allow each adult learner to craft their ‘signature education’ based on their personal learning and career goals.”

To deliver this objective requires innovative program design and delivery – a strength Carlow University already has with the existing Center for Digital Learning & Innovation (CDLI) and the recently launched Hub for Workforce Development and Innovation (the Hub) at Carlow. Dr. Rachael Afolabi Royes, who runs the CDLI and the Hub, explains that innovation is the product of change, and Carlow continues to respond to critical workforce and industry changes with new innovative programs and diverse approaches to learning in modalities like online and hybrid delivery and competency-based education.

“Our Colleges of Health and Wellness, Leadership and Social Change and Learning and Innovation have partnered with the Hub to develop alternative pathways to developing innovative programs in responding to the constant change in the workforce,” she said.

Carlow University currently offers 19 masters degrees, two doctoral degrees and 15 certificate programs in support of regional workforce upscaling. The College of Professional Studies will continue to expand its outreach into the community to provide flexible, adult-learner centered programs to the workers of our region to build the skills necessary to compete today and into the future. Learn more at

STEM Programs/Tech Guide the Future of CCAC

Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) offers more than 35 STEM programs, including many with a technology focus. In the span of five years, enrollment in STEM program fields has increased 11.1 percent, with the college’s Software Development program proving to be one of its most popular offerings.

By working with experts both in the college and out, CCAC continues to develop innovative—and groundbreaking—programs in new, emerging and growing fields. For example, when CCAC began offering a Data Analytics associate degree program prior to the start of the fall 2017 semester, it was the first college in the state—and one of only a handful in the country—to do so. Other programs launched over the past several years have since gained a following among students. These include CCAC’s Multimedia Programming, Simulation and Gaming associate degree program, the Mobile Apps Software Development certificate program and the Cybersecurity associate degree and certificate programs.

CCAC’s partnerships with business and industry have led to numerous successful collaborations. Recently, CCAC launched its Innovation Lab at the college’s North Campus location, where businesses are tapping into the creative talents of CCAC students to assist with solution-driven project development, benefiting area businesses and students alike. Learn more at

Chatham Embraces Flexibility to Meet Student Lifestyle Needs

Founded in 1869, Chatham University is a fully coed institution with an enrollment of more than 2,200 students and 60-plus undergraduate and graduate programs in sustainability; health and wellness; business and communications; and the arts and sciences.

Throughout its history, Chatham has been innovative and entrepreneurial in its growth and it is paying attention to changing student and workforce needs.

With both job markets and graduate degree programs becoming increasingly more competitive, especially in fields like the health sciences, Chatham launched its Integrated Degree Program (IDP) to offer flexibility and cost savings.

When students declare an IDP interest, they align themselves with benefits that include: guaranteed admission to Chatham’s competitive graduate programs; ability to take graduate classes during their senior year of undergraduate studies; and opportunity to complete bachelor’s and master’s degree programs sooner.

Chatham’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS) provides innovative online degree, certificate, and non-credit academic programs for working women and men of all skill and knowledge levels.

SCPS offers graduate and undergraduate low-residency and distance learning programs in Nursing, Health Sciences, Business & Communication, Creative & Design Arts, and Education.

Its online courses and programs focus on providing students with current and contemporary knowledge immediately applicable to their fields and are tailored to students’ already demanding professional and personal lives.

Faculty use a variety of technology to communicate and collaborate with students, including Moodle, Panopto, WebEx, Google Hangouts and Skype.

“Most students that come into the program are working adults who have families, so Chatham created the program keeping this in mind, said Chatham Professor Debra Wolf. “All courses are offered fully online, so students don’t have to come to the brick and mortar classroom. “We have excellent ways of communicating with the student without them having to travel, but they need to fit the requirement deadlines for their classes.”  Learn more at

Gaining Momentum, Duquesne’s Biomedical Engineering Program Graduated First Class

With workforce demand increasing and the options for biomedical engineers growing, Duquesne University’s undergraduate Biomedical Engineering (BME) program graduated its first class of 18 students in May.

The class represents an important hallmark for the program, which has a total enrollment of more than 100 students and receives about 300 applications annually for its 35 spots. This year’s graduating class is also 60-percent female, about three times the national average for engineering programs.

As the need for biomedical engineers continues to increase, Duquesne’s new graduates find their post-graduation options are wide open, ranging from pursuing advanced degrees and teaching opportunities to conducting research and developing new medical devices and technology that improve lives.

“I’d like to work with patients to help them enhance their quality of life and also work with companies to develop new medical devices,” said BME graduate Cecelia Lee-Hauser, who will begin working on her master’s degree in prosthetics and orthotics at the University of Pittsburgh. “This degree really offers me the best of both worlds.”

Duquesne’s pioneering biomedical engineering program launched in 2014 as the BME field exploded. The Bureau of Labor statistics projects that BME employment needs through 2022 will skyrocket by 27 percent, far beyond the average job growth of 11 percent.

“There is a big demand for biomedical engineering,” Dr. John Viator, Program Director, explained. “There are a lot of issues with health care for which you need engineers to solve problems to improve human health. If you’re going to start an engineering program, biomedical engineering is really the place to start because of the advantages of the demand, the new technology, and the timeliness of problems in human health.”

Since the launch of the Bachelor of Science degree program, Duquesne has added a first-in-the-nation dual-degree program in Biomedical Engineering and Nursing and a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering, which launches this fall.

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Geneva College Introduces Master of Science in Cybersecurity Program

The importance of our digital identity in modern society makes its security a pressing issue. It seems like every other week, the public learns of a major breach of computer system security in organizations ranging from banks to retail chains, or social media sites to government agencies. In May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a new personal data privacy law, came into force throughout the European Union, casting doubts on current controls over our personal information.

To handle cybersecurity threats and data privacy requirements, organizations increasingly need highly qualified cybersecurity experts to manage their systems, data, and analytics. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects cybersecurity jobs to grow at twice the average of all other occupations. At the same time, ISACA reports that about 60 percent of cybersecurity personnel are under-qualified upon being hired.

When organizations go looking for highly competent cybersecurity professionals, they can look to Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA. Geneva recently introduced a new graduate degree program to educate cybersecurity leaders in the latest theories and techniques for protecting computers, networks, databases and information systems from malicious attacks, improper handling, environmental hazards and policy inefficiencies. A Geneva Master’s in Cybersecurity qualifies students for lead or managerial positions in this growing field of information assurance, business policy alignment, and digital forensics.

Trust and integrity are vital elements of the cybersecurity professional. At Geneva, professors with real-world cybersecurity experience and academic credentials teach the skills needed to take on problems like ransomware and security management, with the integrity that results from a Biblical ethic applied to daily life in computing. One of those teachers is Paul W. Poteete, with a background that includes time at the Naval Postgraduate School and with cybersecurity firms in California, Hawaii, the Middle East and New Zealand.

Poteete said, “Cybersecurity is the orchestration of manual and autonomous systems and processes to achieve satisfactory levels of risk for an organization. New regulations and malicious technologies create an ever-changing landscape for security professionals in every industry. To properly align security controls and business operations, a security leader must possess a deep understanding of the skills and techniques used by hackers, as well as knowledge in upright and successful business management. Beyond these abilities is the integrity that is found in the true interrelationship of our personal, professional, and spiritual lives. This is the key to providing an honest and capable cybersecurity workforce.” Learn more at

RMU Offers New Degree Programs in Analytics

The region’s economy is evolving dramatically and rapidly, as are the demands of its employers. The Allegheny Conference’s 2016 Inflection Point study has predicted that the Pittsburgh region faces a shortage of 80,000 workers over the next 10 years. Not all of those workers will need four-year degrees, but the highest-demand fields, including healthcare, cyber security and financial technology, will require many new college-educated employees.

For Robert Morris University, data analytics is a key instrument in responding to this demand. Like a growing number of institutions, RMU uses predictive analytics linked to individual student data in order to boost retention and graduation rates.

Recognizing the importance of data analytics in the new economy, RMU also has added new degree programs in the discipline.

• B.S. and M.S. in Data Analytics involve the myriad uses of data, from mining and warehousing to GIS mapping, knowledge management, and related issues of cyberlaw.

• B.S. in Statistical Modeling and Predictive Analytics blends coursework in finance, mathematics, IT, and actuarial sciences.

• Business Analytics is now available as either a standalone “stackable credential” or specialization within the M.B.A. program. Coursework involves the strategic use of big data sets, communication of data-driven insights, and analysis of business patterns and trends.

In addition to these and other new programs, RMU also now offers customized leadership-development programs to local companies. And the university also is building pipelines for degree and certificate programs for veterans, community organizations, community colleges and employers.

As Robert Morris University approaches its 100th year of educating the region’s workforce, innovation has become even more central to its mission. The skills and abilities that are sought after by employers will continue to evolve and change. In order for communities to thrive, strong institutions of higher learning are essential, and universities need to be innovators, not only in what they teach but also in how they operate. That’s the future, and RMU is ready for it. Learn more at

“Rock-Solid” Education is the Foundation at Slippery Rock University

Slippery Rock University (SRU) believes success requires a foundation of intellectual development, leadership and civic responsibility. A “Rock Solid” education begins with a comprehensive learning experience combining academic instruction with hands-on learning opportunities in and out of the classroom – that’s the combination for success.

Students choose from more than 150 undergraduate and 30 graduate programs and certificates offered through the Colleges of Business; Education; Health, Environment and Science; Liberal Arts; and Graduate Studies.

SRU offers academic programs that launch careers in the fields of: science, technology, engineering and math; environment and energy; health care; wellness and fitness; business and communications; humanities, fine and performing arts; and teacher education.

During the past five years, SRU has developed a number of new and sought-after academic programs that serve students and employers.

New undergraduate programs include: Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, Pre-Physician Assistant Studies, Integrated Marketing, Corporate Security, Homeland Security, Physical Activity and Fitness Management, and Developmental and Neuroscience Psychology. Recently added graduate programs include: Physician Assistant Studies, Data Analytics, Occupational Therapy, Criminal Justice, School Nurse Certification, Teaching Online, Special Education and Public Health.

The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report recognize SRU as one of the best universities in the North. The University has been honored as a military-friendly institution, celebrated for its commitment to sustainability and rated one of the safest college campuses in the nation. For the last five years, SRU has been named a College of Distinction for its commitment to engaged students, great teaching, a vibrant community and successful educational outcomes.

SRU alumni are launching their own businesses, working for Fortune 500 companies, teaching in top universities, serving in governmental agencies and pursuing advanced degrees in top graduate schools. Visit to learn more about SRU.

ARCS: Advancing Sciences in America and Here in Pittsburgh

In the scientific exploration that paves the way for discovery, innovation and making our world better, America is being challenged. 

Rising to the challenge, ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) advances the competitiveness of science and technology in the United States by providing financial awards to academically outstanding U.S. citizens completing advanced degrees in science, engineering and medical research. 

The Pittsburgh chapter (one of 15 in the US) began in 2003 when 15 women became committed to the mission.

Since the Pittsburgh chapter’s founding, it has grown from a dedicated core of women supporting a single scholar to a vital group of 100 annually committed members. Over that time, the Pittsburgh chapter has provided three-year awards to 133 Ph.D. scholars at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

The aggregate of committed awards through 2019-2020 totals more than $1.8 million. Award winners can use funds as they see fit to cover personal or education expenses.

Pittsburgh ARCS members also believe that advancing science in America requires more than just funding. A key emphasis of the chapter is introducing scholars to opportunities in the Pittsburgh region, and encouraging these brilliant young scientists to seek their fortune here.  To facilitate that, ARCS builds industry partnerships to support research important to their own communities.

“Our relationship with our scholars is unique. We provide monetary support, but there is much more to it than that.  Through our sponsorships and events, we are a family, a mutual support network in a difficult and challenging environment,”  said Jennifer Martin, Co-President. 

And Co-President Bev Elliott shares her sentiment too,

“Increasingly, research funding is tight and the scholars need all the help they can get to support their personal and professional lives. We wish we could do more, but every dollar makes a big difference to their research and our scientific competitiveness. And we are rewarded by watching some brilliant young people thrive and succeed as leaders in their areas of science and technology.”

Collectively, the chapters of ARCS Foundation have raised over $100 million funding more than 10,000 advanced scholars in leading areas of science, technology and medical research since their founding in 1958.