February 7, 2003
The University of Maine at Fort Kent will receive the retail value of several million dollars worth of new "cutting-edge" software technology as part of a more than $400 million gift given to the state by a Texas-based company.
The software will come to UMFK through an in-kind grant given to the State of Maine by EDS, a leading global services company based in Plano, Texas. According to state officials, the gift is the largest ever received by Maine, and will pave the way for the largest learning technology program in the state's history.
At UMFK, Tony Gauvin, assistant professor of the new electronic commerce program, is working with Maine Department of Education officials to acquire the campus' portion of software allotted to the University of Maine System and Maine Technical Colleges.
Specifically, that part of the gift is designed to ensure that Maine's precision manufacturers continue to have the best-educated work force in the nation.
"The EDS software grant allows the UMFK E-commerce program to start offering a technology in manufacturing curriculum from both a theoretical and applied prospective. The prohibitive cost of software and computer technology has hampered our growth in these areas, but the very generous EDS grant and recent upgrades of computer technology makes this possible now," said Gauvin.
The donated software, called Unigraphics, is a three-dimensional, computer-aided graphic design program that has applications in manufacturing, aerospace, medical technology and other fields. It allows students to build a car, a production facility, design a building or a prosthesis, among other things.
Currently about 400 Maine businesses, including Bath Iron Works and Pratt and Whitney, use Unigraphics. World-wide, the technology is used by 24,000 manufacturers.
According to Gauvin, the new software will not only give UMFK students a leg up, but also has the potential for greater benefit.
"Our students will gain knowledge and experience in specialized and precision manufacturing processes, which will in-turn provide a willing, able and very capable workforce for any company willing to establish a presence in Northern Maine," said Gauvin. "This grant from EDS should provide a plus for economic development efforts in the area and make it easier to attract new industries to the area."
EDS was drawn to Maine largely by the middle-school laptop program established under former Governor Angus King. The lion's share of the donated software to the state is geared toward making state-of-the-art technology learning tools accessible to seventh through twelfth graders in the state and their teachers, however, the state's universities and technical colleges will also benefit.
EDS is a leading global services company that provides strategy, implementation, business transformation and operational solutions for clients managing business and technology complexities of the digital economy.
The company brings together the world's best technologies to address critical client business imperatives and helps clients eliminate boundaries, collaborate in new ways, establish their customers' trust and continuously seek improvement.
Along with its management consulting subsidiary, A.T. Kearney, EDS serves the world's leading companies and governments in 60 countries. EDS reported revenues of $21.5 billion in 2001. The company's stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange.