Technology windfall awaits school

Friday, October 16, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON -- A local corporation is willing to donate $3 million worth of technology to help students design computer-related careers.

The Structural Dynamics Research Co., (SDRC) based in Miami Township in Clermont County, has offered to donate the software so Mason High School students can use it in a computer-aided design lab. The district would first have to buy new computers for its 20-station lab, said Dan Mason, the district's director of information technology. School officials likely will make a decision on the donation before the end of the year. If approved, it would be available to students next fall, he said.

Mason would be one of the first 10 high schools nationwide to participate in its educational licensing program for the software, called I-DEAS, said Tom Sigafoos, manager of of SDRC's Education Consortium.

The software is used to design automobiles, aircraft, electrical equipment and biomedical applications, Mr. Sigafoos said.

"It would provide a great opportunity for students," Mr. Mason said. "This software is used in many of the Fortune 150 companies. It's really powerful; it's advanced. The reason companies are willing to do this is it gives them a larger base of people who have knowledge to use this."

An SDRC employee, Rick Schnelle, was "instrumental" in contacting the district since his children attend Mason schools, Mr. Sigafoos said.

The company has been targeting its software -- which also is used by Ford Motor Co. and Xerox -- in technical schools and community colleges, Mr. Sigafoos said.

"The purpose is to support education and to build interest in engineering careers," Mr. Sigafoos said. "Our society is becoming more technologically dependent, so we need technologically literate students at all levels."

In return, the company is asking the school to serve as a "reference account" to answer questions about the program since other districts are interested in setting up similar programs, he said.

"We'd like for the local schools to be on the cutting edge of new curriculum patterns and new ways of interesting students in technology-based careers," Mr. Sigafoos said.

Janie Garretson, Mason High School career counselor, said the school already offers pre-college business technology, computer programming - networking and computer-aided design classes.

"I know that in the coming (years), the jobs are going to be in the area of technology," Ms. Garretson said. "One of the things we're trying to do at Mason is educate parents and students about what the job market is going to be, what the needs are and to marry that with the technology that we have."

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