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UMFK E-commerce program receives $16+ million in "cutting-edge" software

May 16, 2003

NR03092

The University of Maine at Fort Kent electronic commerce program has received the retail value of more than $16 million dollars worth of new "cutting-edge" software technology.

The gift comes to UMFK through an in-kind grant given to the State of Maine by EDS, a leading global services company based in Plano, Texas, that was founded by famous independent presidential candidate Ross Perot. 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, worked with Maine Department of Education officials to acquire the campus' portion of software allotted to the University of Maine System and Maine Technical Colleges.

UMFK is the only small UMS campus in the state system to receive software through the program. The University of Maine and University of Southern Maine are sharing in the grant.

The technology given to UMFK, U-Maine and USM is designed to ensure that Maine's precision manufacturers continue to have the best-educated work force in the nation.

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.

"The EDS software grant will allow 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.

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.

"It's exciting to see the new software, and its capabilities, now that it is here," said Gauvin.

According to the e-commerce professor the software will be installed this summer, and curriculum will be developed to incorporate it over the next academic year. Gauvin hopes to offer a summer course in 2004, which will introduce the new technology to UMFK students and community members.

The electronic commerce program at UMFK will begin its second year this fall. The one-of-a-kind program in the state has drawn interest from both in and out-of-state students since it was first introduced last fall.

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.