University partners with schools to boost tech

Published: Fri 8 Dec 2006 12:58 AM
University partners with schools to boost technology in the classroom
Secondary school students will soon be able to design complex moving objects using the latest design and engineering software in the classroom thanks to an initiative of The University of Auckland.
The University's Faculty of Engineering is training secondary school teachers in Pro/ENGINEER ®, an advanced computer aided design programme being made available free of charge to New Zealand schools by US-based software company PTC.
Pro/ENGINEER is a 3D modelling tool used widely in the engineering industry to design complex objects with moving parts, such as aeroplanes, washing machines and medical devices.
"It's important that secondary school students start thinking about a career in engineering as we are facing a major shortage of skilled engineers in the future," says Hugh Morris, a senior tutor in Civil and Environmental Engineering. "Exposure to this software will help students understand what engineers do, and the design capability will give them a big advantage if they choose to study engineering at university."
"It's very satisfying for kids to be able to design something then see what it would look like," says Mr Morris. "It allows students to be more adventurous with their design and attempt more sophisticated objects than what could be achieved otherwise," Mr Morris says.
Schools taking part in the University-run training will be given 300 free versions to use in the classroom by PTC, and students will be able to install the software free at home. It usually retails for over $5000 per computer.
New Zealand will be the first country outside of the UK and USA to widely implement Pro/ENGINEER in schools.
Seventeen technology teachers, including two from Australia, attended a free initial training session on December 4 and 5 at the University. The Ministry of Education sponsored New Zealand teachers from outside Auckland to attend. A specialist trainer from PTC travelled from the UK to give the session.
The two day training courses will begin in the New Year and will cost $380. Engineering lecturers from the University will take the courses.
Schools wanting to participate in the initiative can contact Hugh Morris on 09 373 7599 ext. 88186.

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