Albright College and the Science Research Institute (SRI) held a ribbon cutting for its new space at the corner of 11th and Rockland Streets, in the College Heights neighborhood of Reading, Pa., Nov. 16, at 5:30 p.m. Community partners took part in tours of the new space and state-of-the-art research equipment with SRI students and facilitators.
“Ingenuity lives in these labs,” said Adelle Schade, SRI director and dean of pre-college and summer programs at Albright. “Berks County students and teachers are 3D bio-printing, testing water systems, creating carbon filters, producing music, designing in e-sports and games, dissecting the brains of fruit flies and producing large-scale art for this beautiful city.”
About the Albright Science Research Institute
Less than two years ago, Albright welcomed the Science Research Institute (SRI) to campus, offering the opportunity for SRI to expand its reach and offer new experiences in many different disciplines to more students. SRI offers state-of-the-art scientific summer and after-school programming to middle-and high-school students, who learn to function in a high-level scientific research setting while preparing for college and graduate-level research.
“When we announced that the Science Research Institute was moving to Albright College in February 2020, we knew then that it was an exciting opportunity that would bring the power of innovation to Albright College, to our Reading neighborhood, and to the greater Berks County community,” said Albright President, Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D. ’82. “As the oldest institution of higher education in Berks County and a longstanding anchor institution, we are proud to offer this amazing opportunity for young people, right here in our College Heights home in the city of Reading.”
“I’ve never seen a college operate at this speed,” said Berks County Community Foundation President Kevin Murphy. “SRI is changing the story of Berks County. For 100 years, our story was that our work force was stronger and harder working than anyone else’s. Our new story is that our talent pool is smarter and more innovative than anywhere else.”
Why a new space?
The Science Research Institute continues to grow so fast that immediate interim facilities are necessary to meet the current demand of eager Berks County students and educators, before extensive renovations can be completed on its future home within the historic Camp Building on North 12th Street.
Demonstrating SRI’s incredible growth, about 350 extra students attempted to register for SRI’s over-subscribed summer program this year. In response, Albright’s team improvised by collaborating with Berks Nature to offer an additional six-week program to an additional 400 students at Reading middle schools. Many of SRI’s summer participants are already utilizing the new College Heights interim facility to continue their work, via SRI after-school programs.
“When I see the partnerships with Berks Nature, with the Reading School District and the Conrad Weiser School District and with Albright College, I know we can honestly say, we built this right here in Berks,” said Murphy. “It’s ours.”
Teacher training is also ongoing. Recently, 50 Berks teachers and administrators took part in a full day of Act 48/45 training — and later this month, more than 100 Reading School District fifth and sixth grade teachers will be on site to learn how to implement SRI’s Total Experience Learning in their own classrooms.
“Albright welcomed the Science Research Institute to campus immediately before a world-wide pandemic shutdown much of the world. But even a global health crisis did not diminish demand for SRI’s innovative learning opportunities. In fact, it has done just the opposite — the program has continued to grow exponentially,” said Albright alumnus and Board Chair Ronald Scheese ’83, president and CEO of Andesa Service in Exeter Township.
“We know, of course, that SRI at Albright will eventually be housed in the college’s large and historic Camp Building. But state-of-the-art renovations and related fundraising, especially to historic buildings, take time. And in the meantime, SRI is growing so fast that the need for this facility is absolutely immediate. In fact, many [SRI] students have been working on projects in some areas of this building, while at the same time new equipment has been unboxed and brought online in other areas.
In short, this warehouse space is helping us to meet the demand of eager Berks County students, and educators now, while we fundraise and renovate the larger Camp building facility.
As an alumnus and now Board Chair of Albright College, I am proud of my alma mater’s dedication to being an anchor institution within the City of Reading. I’m also thankful for the connection and dedication that our college, city and county leadership display for Science Research Institute — a program that clearly offers the opportunity for our students to define and research their own ideas, right here in Reading.”
Representing Congressman Dan Meuser, Albright graduate Shawn Gamble ’20 presented a proclamation to President Fetrow during the event, congratulating Albright College on opening a new Science Research Institute facility.
“Together let’s celebrate our vision for building a bright, innovative future — one in which the children of Reading and the Greater Berks community explore their own curiosity to ask questions, and are led through research to find innovative answers to those questions,” said President Fetrow. “As a result, their creations and inventions will serve as the foundation to build their own success right here in the city of Reading and Berks County!”