PLANO, Texas (Oct. 18, 2004) —Local education and business leaders today signed an agreement 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. Among other things, the collaboration will provide internships and increased scholarship opportunities for students and strengthened professional development programs for teachers.
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.
Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, UTD provost and executive vice-president, said, “We expect this coalition will result in better-educated students who have broad exposure to an array of career choices. We will serve the educational needs of a diverse student body while helping to meet the workforce expectations of business and industry. 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 about opportunities that exist in engineering and technology fields.”
The coalition’s inception 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.
"The North Texas region is poised to see reinvigorated economic development in the high-tech arena. As such, there is 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 1988 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.
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.
Elements of the collaboration include, but are 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 PISD 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;
- creation of a “community of scholars” composed of faculty from PISD, CCCCD and UTD to help develop seamless curricula in math, science and related areas of study.
PISD Superintendent 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. The 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 Collin County Community College President Cary Israel, “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. By working side-by-side, we can supply a competitive workforce in high demand fields such as teaching, math, science, technology and other emerging occupations.”
The 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,
- enhance the research and intellectual capacity of Collin County .
The superintendent of the Plano Independent School District, the president of the Collin County Community College, and the provost of The University of Texas at Dallas will oversee Hi-TECCC. Officials left open the possibility that the program could be expanded to include additional educational institutions and industry partners in the future.
The University of Texas at Dallas , located at the convergence of Richardson , Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.