The Stevens Institute of Technology has launched two new tech projects that school officials hope will enhance the learning experience at Stevens and facilitate partnerships with New Jersey businesses.
The new initiatives will be paid for with $7.25 million in state bond funds.
"With these tools and these technologies, we will be producing graduates for the workforce in the state of New Jersey that will be trained in a way that will put them on a par or exceeding the level they're getting at other schools," said David Dodd, vice president for information technology and chief information officer at Stevens. "The whole design is not really helping Stevens; it's helping New Jersey and our economy."
The first project, which is currently being tested on campus and should be operational by fall of 2014, will create a virtualized learning environment for students.
That means making advanced, powerful software available to students wherever they are studying, Dodd said. For example, Stevens uses a program called SolidWorks, which is used by companies like Boeing. It allows users to look virtually at a radial engine for an airplane, for example, and see all its hundreds of parts, but it takes very powerful computers to run that software.
"So if you're a student, you either have to have a very large, powerful laptop," Dodd said, "or you have to come to campus to use one of our computers that runs this."
The virtualized learning environment will make powerful programs like SolidWorks available to any student with a reasonable laptop and an Internet connection, Dodd said. That will allow Stevens to better serve both traditional students and those looking for continuing education opportunities.
It could also lead to partnerships with businesses that would allow corporate professionals to collaborate with researchers at Stevens on new technologies and projects, he added.
The other tech project now being developed is called the Unified Communications and Collaboration Environment.
The idea is based on the fact that every student learns differently, Dodd said. The new project would create a cloud environment where students can customize their learning tools. If they learn better in groups, the environment they create will allow for real-time collaboration with other students, Dodd said. If they learn more visually, the project will give them access to images of the complex topics they are studying.
That project could take up to two years to develop, Dodd said. But when it is ready, it will be a very powerful resource.
"All of this is really designed to help Stevens stay at the forefront of providing technology to give students the very best education possible," Dodd said.