At Penn State Altoona, opportunities abound for students of all majors to engage, on a one-one basis, with faculty members in various research and creative activity endeavors across all disciplines. Through these transformative out-of-the-classroom experiences, students receive personal attention from Penn State Altoona faculty, the opportunity to team with fellow students on short or long-term projects, and the chance to interact with faculty at other campuses, visiting scholars, and graduate/postdoctoral students. At other institutions of higher education, such personal mentoring from faculty is usually only available to senior graduate students; at Penn State Altoona, it is the norm.
Every year, approximately 100 students obtain research or independent-study credits and another seventy receive stipends (up to $2500 annually) for their efforts. Overall, Penn State Altoona provides annually over $120,000 for student stipends and wages, with another $35,000 provided by industry partners; last summer, twelve students were supported by an eight-week summer REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) program, each receiving a $4500 stipend. In addition to stipends Penn State Altoona has budgeted $50,000 in support of students traveling on research and creative activity-related trips. With over $2M in active external grants, many Penn State Altoona faculty are able to independently support students for multiple years; many such students even begin their research experience in their freshman year.
Participating students are encouraged to showcase their activities at the annual Penn State Altoona Research and Creative Activities Fair, as well as the University-wide Undergraduate Exhibition, among other events. In 2016, Penn State Altoona student Angela Spagnoli took top honors at the University-wide Undergraduate Exhibition, receiving the Gerald A. Hauser Award. In addition to these internal venues, students have the opportunity to present at regional, national, and even international conferences; many of these same students become co-authors on refereed journal articles.