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Hi-TECC Agreements SEcures Hi-Tech Education for Students


October 18, 2004 -- Local education and business leaders signed an agreement today, creating the High Technology Education Coalition of Collin County (Hi-TECCC), a collaborative effort designed to ensure that area students receive a high-quality education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The coalition's kick off celebration was held at the Plano ISD Sockwell Center and attended by approximately 100 coalition leaders, elected officials, school district administrators and senior high school students.

The collaboration, among other things, will provide internships and increased scholarship opportunities for students and strengthen professional development programs for teachers.

Hi-TECCC Charter Members

The charter members of Hi-TECCC are the Plano Independent School District,

the Collin County Community College District and The University of Texas at

Dallas (UTD) with an advisory committee of industry leaders from Lockheed

Martin, Nortel Networks, Raytheon and Texas Instruments.

Celebrating the collaboration today with remarks and signing of the Hi-TECCC Memorandum of Understanding were:

Dr. Doug Otto, Superintendent of Schools, Plano Independent School District

Dr. Cary Israel, President, Collin County Community College District

Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, Executive Vice-president and Provost, The University

of Texas at Dallas

Phil Ritter, Senior Vice-President, Texas Instruments

Whitney Strauss, Manager of Community Relations, Lockheed Martin

Robert Holmes, Vice-president of Human Resources and Global Operations,

Nortel Networks

Steve Chambers, Director of Advanced Systems and Technology, Raytheon

Strengthening Education

The coalition's intention is to strengthen the collaboration among the individual educational institutions and implement continuous improvement in the educational infrastructure so companies expanding or relocating will find a positive climate for research and innovation in Collin County.

The partnership coincides with Texas Instruments' plans to build its next manufacturing facility in Collin County and a $300 million commitment by the state and University of Texas System to enhance the standing of UTD's Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Plano ISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Doug Otto, said, "The citizens of our community are fortunate to have nationally recognized educational institutions that serve the needs of our students and teachers. This robust partnership that we are creating will strengthen opportunities for students and teachers at all levels and help us better meet community expectations. This initiative demonstrates the high level of commitment Lockheed Martin, Nortel, Raytheon and TI have to public education."

According to Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, UTD provost and executive vice-president, the coalition will result in better-educated students who have broad exposure to an array of local career choices. "What we plan to achieve is a more comprehensive and strategic alignment among the three institutions, as well as a higher level of awareness among students, faculty and the community of opportunities that exist in engineering and technology fields," he said.

Dr. Cary Israel, Collin County Community College District (CCCCD) president, said, by working side-by-side, the coalition partners can supply a competitive workforce in high demand fields such as teaching, math, science, technology and other emerging occupations. "We believe in a mosaic approach to higher education, connecting the student with each of the educational entities as well as the resources needed for a meaningful professional career.

"The North Texas region is poised to see reinvigorated economic development in the high-tech arena. As such, there is a heightened focus and a sense of urgency to develop future workers who are equipped for careers in math, science and technology," said Bill Sproull, president of the Metroplex Technology Business Council.

The data indicate that fewer students across the state are pursuing degrees in engineering - an 8.6 percent drop from 1998 to 2001. For the same time period, across the nation, electrical engineering degrees declined 47 percent, from 24,367 to 12,929, according to the American Association of Engineering Societies.

Elements of the Collaboration

The collaboration will include, but is not limited to:

.: high school internships on the UTD campus for Plano ISD sophomores and juniors,

.: Academic Excellence Scholarships for qualified Plano ISD students,

.: Advanced Placement (AP) institutes to train and certify teachers in AP instruction,

.: professional development opportunities at UTD for Plano ISD and CCCCD instructors,

.: articulation agreements between CCCCD and UTD to guarantee a smooth transition from one institution to the other,

.: expansion of early and concurrent admissions programs;

.: continuing education scholarships for faculty, and

.: creation of a "community of scholars" composed of faculty from Plano ISD, CCCCD and UTD to help develop seamless curricula in math, science and related areas of study.

An Industry Advisory Committee will work with Hi-TECCC to:

.: enhance and strengthen current strategies and define new programs that help improve student achievement,

.: help guide future curriculum offerings,

.: increase the number of Collin County students pursuing engineering and technical disciplines at Collin County higher education institutions,

.: improve student retention pursuing technical degree plans, and

.: enhance the research and intellectual capacity of Collin County.

Collin College serves more than 46,000 credit and continuing education students annually and offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs. The only public college in the county, Collin College is a partner to business, government and industry, providing customized training and work force development.