UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Charles R. Schneider and Penn State are partnering on a nearly $9 million investment to greatly expand the College of Engineering’s focus on improving processes and efficiencies across the service sector of the economy, a field known as service enterprise engineering.
Schneider, a longtime supporter of Penn State who earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1962, has committed $4 million in support of a scholarship, two professorships, a faculty chair and two program support funds, all in the area of service enterprise engineering within the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (IME).
Penn State has committed $3.675 million to support the scholarship, professorships, faculty chair and a program support fund along with providing additional funding for a program director and director of industry consortia and technology transfer.
Additionally, Schneider has committed to match up to $1 million in Penn State funding for media and outreach initiatives in support of service enterprise engineering.
Schneider’s gift, along with the University’s investment, will enable the department to create three new degree offerings: a bachelor of science dual degree in industrial engineering and service enterprise engineering, a bachelor of science in service enterprise engineering and a master of science in service enterprise engineering.
“Chuck Schneider continues to be an incredibly active alumnus who cares deeply about giving back to the college and students,” said Justin Schwartz, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering. “We are grateful for his generosity, as it allows us to expand the reach of service enterprise engineering at Penn State and beyond. Our collaboration with Chuck is creating opportunities for our students to have an impact on society.”
Schneider has been on a multi-decade quest to reengineer the service industry sector. After serving in the U.S. Navy for four years, he spent roughly 15 years working with manufacturing firms. He joined the service sector in the late 1970s as group vice president for Borg Warner Security, at the time the world’s largest private security company. In 1993, Schneider founded U.S. Security Associates, Inc., for which he still serves as chairman. The company now employs over 60,000.
As a leader in the service sector, he began to notice opportunities for improvement. Schneider noted that nearly 80 percent of U.S. employment is within the service industry sector of the economy; however, he noticed that a lack of streamlined processes means that people, like hospital patients, may experience extended wait times for services.
“The lack of engineering expertise in the service industry opens up a wide array of possibilities in research and education,” Schneider said. “Engineers need to be able to look for problems in the service sector and find out how it can be done better. Most of the challenge is seeking out those issues because people will often accept bad service.”
Since 2003, Schneider has served as chair of IME’s Service Enterprise Engineering Advisory Board. The members of the board help guide undergraduate and graduate programming and identify emerging research areas in the field. Under Schneider’s leadership, the board has been influential in the inception of the Service Enterprise Engineering Center, the introduction of service engineering as a defined doctoral degree area of focus, the launch of the Service Enterprise Engineering Initiative (SEE 360) and the creation of a minor for undergraduate students.
Since the foundation of SEE 360 in 2014, students have worked on a variety of projects across Penn State, including efforts to evaluate and improve food wait times in Beaver Stadium, lessen lines in the Berkey Creamery, and optimize snow removal across the University Park campus.
The snow-removal model, titled “Real-time Optimization for Adaptive Removal of Snow” (ROARS), was recognized during the annual Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) conference in May 2019. ROARS placed third for the Outstanding Innovation in Service Systems Engineering Award, co-sponsored by IISE and the SEE Advisory Board, which received nominations from academia and industry.
“I am grateful for Chuck’s gift to the department and the University,” said Ling Rothrock, interim department head for the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. “It catapults us into global prominence to educate the next generation of leaders in the service industry.”
Rothrock noted that Vittal Prabhu, director of SEE 360 and professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, along with Schneider and the members of the Service Enterprise Engineering Board, collaboratively identified the education and research needs that will be addressed through the gift.
Schneider has long been a supporter of the industrial and manufacturing engineering department. In 2013, Schneider and his late wife Enid gifted the department $1 million to create the service enterprise engineering board and support its activities. In February 2019, they gifted the department an additional $1 million to endow the Charles and Enid Schneider Scholarship in Service Enterprise Engineering. The gift was matched 1:1 by Penn State through a recently concluded matching program for a total of $2 million to support full-time graduate and undergraduate students with financial need.
“Penn State, outside of my family and career, has been one of the most significant relationships in my life,” said Schneider. “I have always had a wonderful feeling about Penn State and it is like home for me. I want students to benefit from this gift and be prepared to excel in the 21st-century workforce.”
For more information on SEE 360 at Penn State, visit see360.psu.edu.
This gift from Charles Schneider will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.