A new exhibition featuring a West Virginia University industry program will open at the Morgantown History Museum on Friday, March 4.
The exhibition includes glass items that tell the story of the Glass Industry Assistance Program, which gave senior mechanical engineering students the opportunity to work with glass companies throughout the region to find solutions to engineering problems.
Housed in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, GIAP functioned from 1990 to 2005 as part of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering’s Projects With Industry program. PWI was recognized in the National Academy of Engineering’s Real World Engineering Education publication, which highlights model programs that demonstrate methods of infusing real world experience into engineering education.
“The West Virginia Development Office in Charleston, who fostered and promoted the PWI program, helped us identify glass as a state industry that needed engineering assistance,” said Ed Sneckenberger, professor emeritus and leader of PWI from 1993 to 2003. “Our students were provided with real industrial experiences and the companies were provided with industrial process enhancements – everyone benefited.”
More than 100 students participated in 25 projects over the 15-year life of the program that proposed improvements to current plant process, development of new processes and the application of new technologies and improved energy sources.
The exhibition will showcase a variety of items created by regional glassmakers during GIAP’s life span including flat glass, fiberglass, container glass, specialty glass and art glass.
“I collected most of these products as part of supervising the student teams during their design projects. The products show the breadth of the regional glass industry during that time,” said Sneckenberger. “These products made beautiful windows, building insulation, every day bottles and specialty lighting. The regional glass industry was quite diverse and it provided a great partner for our students.”
Although the glass industry in the region has declined, other industries in the region have given students the opportunity to continue working with companies to solve engineering problems. In total, the PWI program has conducted more than 100 projects with industrial companies throughout the region over the past 25 years.
“This exhibit celebrates how state government, through its support of a university-industry partnership, was able to benefit both the regional glass industry and the university students,” said Sneckenberger. “Thanks to the program, many of our students graduated with real-world experience that enhanced their education and their careers.”
CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
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