Three students learning from a professor on a lcd monitor attached to a robot.

Greater Allegheny receives University's REACH grant

Penn State Greater Allegheny’s Biobehavioral Health program is transforming classroom learning with the help of modern technology. Through the university’s Teaching and Learning with Technology REACH (Re-Imagine, Engage, Align, CHange) Initiative, Greater Allegheny’s Dr. Kristal Tucker, Assistant Professor of Biology, and her colleague Dr. Penelope Morrison, Penn State New Kensington, Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health were awarded a Beam Robot to use in the Biobehavioral Health program, shared by the two campuses. 

“The Beam Robot is a remote-controlled mobile telecommunications device that allows the user to effectively be in 2 places at once,” said Tucker. “It has a LCD monitor, cameras, and speakers that allow the user to see, communicate, and interact with others at a remote location in a much more personal way.”

When Tucker learned of the REACH initiative from Dr. David Stone, Director of Collaborative Programs,  she realized the Beam Robot would allow for greater interaction between the students at Greater Allegheny and at New Kensington.

“This initiative provides faculty with resources and experiences to meet the goal of developing an innovative and engaging course that is shared between campuses in a collaborative program,” said Dr. Tucker. “This seemed like the perfect opportunity to improve the quality of our shared [Biobehavioral Health] program.”

When the Beam Robot arrived on campus, the Information Technology team referred to the bot as Jarvis, and the name has caught on.  Jarvis made his debut at the Greater Allegheny campus during the Spend a Summer Evening Event on August 9. The robot was controlled by Tucker while it welcomed guests and introduced potential students to what Greater Allegheny has to offer.

“In the classroom this beam robot will facilitate greater interaction with students and professors,” said Adam Smith a Penn State Greater Allegheny student and Biobehavioral Health major. “This is something to definitely look forward to.”

Penn State Greater Allegheny inspires students to Be Greater.  With the addition of this technology on campus, and especially within the Biobehavioral Health program, the students will be prepared to enter bio-medical and health related careers and serve their communities.