Training the Workforce Early

Unisys and the former HFSI are taking an active role in improving computer literacy and software engineering in schools

Two Netplex-area schools have reaped recent benefits from information technology companies hoping to improve computer literacy in schools and enhance the high-tech job pool.

On Nov. 9, Unisys Corp. christened a new computer software development laboratory at Howard University's School of Engineering. Unisys is donating 30 new personal computers to the lab, and Unisys Federal President James F. McGuirk, Assistant Secretary of Defense Emmett Paige will be on hand for the lab's opening.

Meanwhile, Fairfax County Public Schools' Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology has been enjoying the support of HFSI, which is now part of Wang.

HFSI's latest contribution includes computer equipment and services valued at $500,000 -- increasing HFSI's total commitment to the prestigious school to $2.5 million. "These students are the workforce of our future," said Ronald Cuneo, HFSI president, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held at the school in Alexandria, Va. Oct. 18.

The donated DPS6-Plus Quad Processor will update and replace three systems HFSI had previously installed. "The old ones were getting too expensive to maintain," said Gary Dempsey, HFSI customer service representative.

The new system is smaller, has greater memory and disk storage capacity than its predecessors, and, says HFSI Director of Business Development, Jerry O'Brien, "gives them what they need to hook all the labs together and all the classrooms together." Students can now access the library database, the Internet and other computer labs and classrooms within the school.

Some of Thomas Jefferson's 1,600 students may not notice the new equipment. Although every student is required to take one computer science class, each is free to pursue other interests unrelated to gigabytes and RAMs after that. But for the "techies" who are studying from a computer science textbook used in George Mason's graduate program and spending as many as 20 hours a week working on classroom computers, the contribution may be more appreciated. Now, students can even access the lab's database from their homes, said Don Hyatt, Computer Sciences teacher and lab director.

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