WSU Computer Sciences Puts Technology Grants into Action

PULLMAN, Wash. — The programs are loaded, the equipment is ordered, and Washington
State University’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is pressing the “enter”
button to accelerate preparation for more information technology workers in the state.
The school received $500,000 in September as part of the state Higher Education
Coordinating Board technology grants to higher education institutions. The grants are a
one-time infusion to beef up preparation programs for thousands of critically needed information
technology workers in the state.
EECS officials estimate that using the funds in the following ways will enable at least 200
more students to take WSU computer courses over the next two years. By January, the award
will achieve the following:
— $220,000 develops and launches an embedded systems lab to enhance the new computer
engineering program. Embedded systems often are invisible microprocessors that perform special
tasks within larger systems. Examples are digital switchers, clocks, temperature gauges and other
such devices. More than 13 billion embedded computer systems were sold in 1998, compared to
40 million personal computers. Addition of a 12-station lab allows training of 72 students a year,
triple the current enrollment, according to John Shovic, EECS faculty member, who directs the
— $280,000 will increase the capacity of the two bachelor’s degree programs in computer
science by removing the bottleneck caused by computer laboratories. Since more than 90 percent
of WSU students already own computers, most of the funds will be used to support students
performing assignments on their own computers, instead of sharing a limited supply of
laboratory computers. Web pages will be developed to provide students with online advice on
the setup and maintenance of laboratory software on their computer. John Hart, EECS faculty
member, says using their own computers “allows students to spend as much time as they need
on their laboratory assignments and also teaches them useful personal system administration
skills.” The remaining funds will be used to increase the capacity of computer animation and
wireless networking laboratories that use special equipment not ordinarily found on student
Matching donations to the state’s $500,000 grant exceed a million dollars in cash, equipment
and software from The Boeing Company, Microsoft, Alias|Wavefront, Tektronix, Coastline
Micro, Motorola, Diab Data and Fluke. Gifts from Tektronix, Microsoft, Intel and Motorola also
enable long-term upgrade strategies in many of the school’s labs over the next two years.