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Advancement News

Digesting New Topics One Megabyte at a Time

Posted Feb. 1, 2010

Imagine seven multistory buildings, each half the size of a football field. Then picture hundreds of rooms filled with industrial equipment — equipment that not only must be purchased, but maintained on a regular basis. Finally, calculate the massive costs involved in all of that, just to provide a comprehensive education in technology.

That's the scenario laid out by Verna Fitzsimmons, interim dean of the College of Technology, if Kent State wanted to expose students to every machine, tool and process they might encounter once they enter the manufacturing industry. The problem, she says, is that no institution could afford the startup and continuing costs for such an education.

Thankfully, that problem is solved by preparing students for future careers through computer software. And a series of in-kind gifts to the college as part of the Centennial Campaign is giving students those experiential-learning tools.

Appropriate Technology, a regional company serving design, engineering and manufacturing clients, has made the largest in-kind gift in the university's history with a contribution of $13.5 million of Siemens PLM (product lifecycle management) software. It's a package of programs that allows students to take a product through all design steps, from concept through engineering and manufacturing. And it's the exact set of resources many of them will use upon graduation.

Similarly, the college has received a gift-in-kind of construction-management software from Primavera Software Inc., giving students the opportunity to learn one of the tools used universally in that field.

"I would expect every College of Technology graduate would list on their resume that they are proficient in these software packages," Fitzsimmons says. "That's going to make the difference — a candidate with PLM experience is going to get hired over one without."

Another way the college is preparing students for real-world situations is through simulations in the flight technology program. Future pilots must train on classroom computers before they get behind actual controls — and a gift from CPaT Inc. provides interactive software for Boeing 777 and Embraer 145 aircraft controls. It's the same software used by airlines in their training programs.

"Unlike the past, today's education can't simply consist of teaching students basic skills," Fitzsimmons says. "Employers in the technology field need knowledge workers — people who not only know the fundamentals, but get the big picture of how things fit together. As we integrate these programs into the curricula, our students will be ideal workforce candidates because they'll graduate prepared to be these knowledge workers."