Proposed tech centre receives wireless windfall

In effort to bring more opportunity into education, two technology moguls have teamed up with an Ontario college to provide wireless infrastructure and equipment to students and faculty.

Compaq Computer Corp and cohort Avaya Inc. were on-hand at a groundbreaking lunch Wednesday to offer their support – along with a hefty $10.25 million cheque – to Scarborough, Ont.-based Centennial College, a donation that will go toward building the college’s planned Science and Technology Centre set to open in 2004 at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough Campus.

“This alliance will put our new campus at the leading edge of technology and training,” said Centennial College president, Richard Johnston. “This collaboration is the future of education. It is not just a preferred negotiation. It is a negotiation where all parties win.”

Compaq Canada president David Booth agreed that the investment is mutually beneficial. “Over one million people could be employed if they had appropriate knowledge and skills,” Booth said.

Centennial College has also been given a grant of $37.8 million from the province’s SuperBuild Corp., an organization created in 1999 in response to Ontario’s growing infrastructure deficit.

Compaq and Avaya will provide the equipment for Centennial’s wireless network, which executives say will be 802.11a and 802.11b-compliant.

“With wireless infrastructure, students can study in places where they could not before,” said Victor Garcia, managing principal for Richmond Hill, Ont.-based Compaq Global Services Canada. “Students will also be building wireless infrastructure and will be able to learn about wireless networking and graduate as experts.”

According to Avaya Canada’s Dan Lacombe, senior vice-president of sales operations, the college will have the ability to utilize Avaya resources as well as Avaya labs, and will also use the recently announced Avaya APIII wireless access points.

Not only will the Centre offer students a wide assortment of technologies, but Centennial said students will participate in applied research projects, test emerging technologies and be exposed to new programs focused around e-business, e-health and wireless technology.

In return for its investment, Compaq will be able to test and learn how its latest technologies fare, using the campus as a living demonstration site for new products. Compaq has also been awarded naming rights to the centre as lead donor.

“Education is truly our future,” said Compaq’s Booth. “It is no accident that Compaq became involved with Centennial. Compaq is proud to be associated with this initiative.”

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