Christmas comes early for three universities

A $185 million gift of computer-aided design, manufacturing and engineering (CAD, CAM, CAE) software, hardware and training given to three Canadian universities this week is putting smiles on the faces of givers and receivers alike.

The University of Toronto, The University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ont. and Kingston, Ont.-based Queen’s University comprise the receivers.

However, the gift, announced Tuesday at the University of Toronto, will also benefit the donors – General Motors of Canada Limited, Sun Microsystems, Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and EDS PLM Solutions (EDS PLM) – according to officials from the four companies.

Maureen Kempston Darkes, GM Canada’s president and general manager, called the gift “a critical investment in the intellectual capital of Canada’s youth and the success of tomorrow’s Canadian-educated engineers.”

GM, Sun Microsystems, EDS and EDS PLM Solutions form a corporate alliance known as the Partners for the Advancement of CAD/CAM/CAE Education (PACE). PACE partners have worked together since 1999 to provide academic institutions with computer-based engineering tools to prepare mechanical designers, engineers and analysts with the skills to compete in the future.

“This contribution by the PACE partners ensures that Canadian engineering students have access to world-class, computer-aided engineering tools to gain the necessary experience,” Kempston Darkes announced. “Engineering students at these three Ontario universities will now be using the same advanced, math-based engineering and design tools in the classroom that GM engineers used in the lab to design innovative new vehicles such as the 2002 Chevy Avalanche.

“Helping Canadian students develop state of the art skills will help Canada attract more high tech jobs and investment.”

The three universities join an international network of 12 other academic institutions in the U.S. and Mexico involved in engineering, manufacturing and design. To date, PACE’s donations add up to $1.16 billion. Gifts for nine other universities – including Canadian schools – will be announced in 2002.

While hardware, software and manufacturing companies have long been giving to universities, the significance of this gift is that the partnership provides fully integrated tools that can be used right away, said Sun Microsystems’ CEO and chairman Everett Anstey.

Queen’s University is the first to put the donation into use, having begun moving more than 600 first-year engineering undergraduates from the two-dimensional design world to three-dimensional solid modeling this past September, said Dr. William Leggett, the university’s principal and vice-chancellor.

The University of Toronto plans to incorporate it into its curriculum in January 2002. The University of Waterloo took delivery of the gift only this week. Mechanical engineering department chairperson Gerry Schneider reports Waterloo will have it as part of its curriculum next autumn, although individual project teams will begin using it this coming spring.

“Graduates from U of T, UW and Queen’s will be highly-skilled and able to ‘hit the ground running’ when joining an employer in any sector,” added Phil Taylor, president for EDS PLM Solutions Canada.

“Providing students access to industry-leading computing resources is critical to Canadian universities’ ability to attract and retain the brightest students and faculty in today’s global competitive marketplace,” added Sun’s Anstey. “Implementation of infrastructure in Canadian classrooms today means innovation in our factories tomorrow.”

The University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ont., is at

The University of Toronto is at

Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., is at

GM Canada is at

Sun Microsystems Canada in Markham, Ont., is at

EDS Canada is at