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News 03-21-2003

Sponsor: SAS Higher Education Road Shows

SAS is hosting complimentary, half-day events for college and university leaders designed to provide insight for strategic enrollment and human capital management. To learn more and register to attend an event visit or

Students Win University Wireless Developer Contest

Michael Yuan, a graduate student from the University of Texas at Austin won the University Wireless Developer Contest for his iFeedback application, a mobile survey tool that allows professors to send course-related questionnaires for open, real-time communications with students. Yuan received a $20,000 scholarship, along with other prizes. The second and third place winners are Ramswaroop Somani, a senior from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Ju Long, a business graduate student from the University of Texas at Austin. Somani's application, the University Positioning System, provides for real-time tracking of people and possessions on campus. It is also a location-based reminder and calendar system that provides directions to and from university buildings. Long developed SmartPhrases, a mobile spell checker and dictionary application that also checks usage of words in phrases. Somani and Long received $10,000 and $5,000 scholarships for their winning applications. The contest was sponsored by wireless serviceprovider Nextel Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc., and Motorola Inc.

For information about the 2003 contest, visit:

eLearning Systems: How do you differentiate between products?

Join the Syllabus online community and discuss key issues with your peers in the Syllabus Forums at A variety of topics are posted, from eLearning Systems to Faculty Development. Sharon Gray, Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD, leads a forum on how prospective users can differentiate between eLearning products and decide which best fits their needs. Check out the responses, weigh in with your thoughts and experiences, and learn from your colleagues.

Value Tops in Survey of Distance Grad School Prospects

In a recent survey, one-third of a group of prospective graduate students said "reputation of program" would be the most important factor to them in choosing a distance learning grad school program. The Distance Graduate School survey was conducted by the University of Texas TeleCampus, the support center for online degrees within the UT System, and More than 11,500 students participated. The survey sponsors said the results showed that students shy away from "degree mills" and consider content and program value more important than delivery method. The finding was further supported by the fact that 19 percent of the respondents said a "high degree of interactivity between professors and students" was their most important criteria for choosing a distance graduate school. Affordability ranked as the third most important criteria in selecting a graduate program.

NSF Project Broadens CC Manufacturing Curriculum

Iowa State University is heading a National Science Foundation (NSF) project to encourage community colleges to enhance manufacturing curriculum with course modules developed using Autodesk Inventor software. Iowa State is partnering with two local educational institutions—Southeast Technical Institute and Iowa Western Community College—for the NSF project, called "Competitive Manufacturing by Design." During the three-year pilot and field-test project, the project partners are sharing the benefits of integrating Autodesk Inventor software into the curriculum with at least 30 instructors in nine manufacturing-related community colleges in the Midwest. Currently, Iowa State University and its partners are using 125 licenses of Autodesk Inventor software. "An outcome of this project will be larger numbers of better prepared workers that will lead to a more competitive U.S. manufacturing industry. The eventual impact for students will be a heightened awareness of the interaction between design and manufacturing, and the skills to effectively operate in a team environment," said Joseph Chen, professor and director of Graduate Study in the Department of Industrial Education and Technology at Iowa State University.

New Products: Assessment Tool Eases Remote Test-Taking

Testing and assessment software supplier Questionmark released Perception to Go (P2G), which enables remote test takers to synchronize from their PCs to their Web servers. Test takers can pull down new assessments scheduled by an administrator, disconnect from the network and then answer questions, receive feedback offline, and merge results back to their Web servers when they reconnect. Many universities already deliver examinations via the Internet. The synchronization module will enable users to download data in advance, only going back online to upload results, which will reduce the load on the Web server. The company says the tool will enable schools to conduct large assessments without having to run servers that would lie idle at other times, saving on transmission costs, and eliminating network latency that might affect the timing of high-stakes exams.

New Deals, Awards, Contracts in Higher Education

TECH GRANTS—Performance Technologies, a developer of embedded computing products and system-level solutions for the communications, industrial, and military markets, said it will provide its high-availability Ethernet switching systems to the College of Computing and Information Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). RIT was the first university to offer undergraduate degrees in information technology and software engineering. The company is donating its IPnexus(TM) CPC4400 Ethernet switching platform, which supports multiple switching architectures. A total of 16 network switches, valued at about $83,000, will be installed in a networking laboratory on RIT's Henrietta, N.Y., campus.

DESIGN TOOLS—Olin College of Engineering has standardized on SolidWorks as one of its primary three-dimensional computer-aided design (3-D CAD) software packages. The Needham, Mass.-based school has purchased 80 licenses of SolidWorks software, enough for each student in its freshman class. The school said the software supports a key tenet of Olin's curriculum, which is to help students work on real-world examples and projects from day one. Very often, engineering schools require two years of theoretical math and science studies before giving students design projects their junior and senior years.

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