Company and campus advance the teaching of high-tech basics

Two announcements, one here, the other in Kalamazoo, Mich., have underscored the growing importance of high-technology education to the future economic welfare of the nation.

The basis for high-tech education, at the high school level as well as college, is chemistry, physics, and mathematics, studies often hampered by a shortage of teachers in those fields, a shortage one high-tech firm has just taken steps to ease.

Ardis Boland, personnel manager of Hewlett-Packard's Vancouver division, told a group of educators and business leaders here his company has established a $6 million program of fellowship grants and forgivable loans to finance studies leading to PhD degrees, with monetary aid going to candidates who will teach for three years upon graduation.

In Kalamazoo, James Powell, chairman of the mathematics department of Western Michigan University, has announced that future students, enrolling in 1983 and beyond, must also enroll in a required basic computer course, whatever other courses they take.

Computer literacy, Dr. Powell noted, is here to stay and the university's new program will also serve to introduce instructors, whatever their field, to the computer.

To the candidate for a PhD degree who will undertake the three-year teaching assignment, the Hewlett-Packard program will give full tuition and $36,000 for living expenses during four years of study. In addition, the school where the new PhD graduate goes to teach will be given new high-tech equipment in the amount of $50,000.

Ms. Boland, noting that awards of PhD degrees have dropped 40 percent since 1973, said her company expects to be supporting at least 50 candidates for such degrees by 1985.

Also appearing at the symposium of businessmen and educators here was Norman Winningstad, chairman and chief executive officer of Floating Point Systems of Portland, Ore., a highly successful young firm in the high-tech arena. He emphasized that ''high-tech is the fastest-growing segment of industry today and that communications for the use of business and industry is a most important area of high technology.''

Chemistry, physics, and mathematics, he asserted, are not popular studies today because people fail to realize that the future ''lies with those who can work with their heads.'' Parents ''need to be informed of the necessity and desirability of such courses.''

John Fluke, chairman and chief executive officer of the John Fluke Manufacturing Company, with operations in 72 countries, including China, emphasized that a sound economic base requires the most modern technology and that today we ''have seen only the beginning of a technical life.''

Citing education as the No. 1 priority in the United States today, Mr. Fluke suggested that perhaps now is the time to consider extending the school year, as we know it, pointing out that in Japan the school year is 2.4 percent longer than for American students.

''Technical excellence is a must, if we are to get anywhere today,'' Mr. Fluke added.

The symposium was intended to increase contacts between the business-industrial and education communities, not only in Vancouver but elsewhere in Washington State. Sponsors were the Vancouver Public Schools, Clark (County) Community College, the Evergreen School District, Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, and the US office of Education, Region 10.

George Hood, Region 10 representative of the Education Department, told the group about a program initiated in the Boston high-tech area to upgrade school curricula with an emphasis on electronics. He said the program was a forerunner of a similar effort on a national basis.

Mr. Hood suggested that mathematics and science teachers should be given more recognition and an effort must be made to halt the movement of these people into industry and away from teaching.

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