Fort Hays State University, Nex-Tech and Rural Telephone of Lenora today announced the opening of new advanced technology laboratories. These labs will allow Fort Hays State University to provide students with new offerings in wireless networking and network security technologies. The laboratories will also bolster other information technology classes in telecommunications, video editing and Web development.
"Fort Hays State University's Department of Information Networking and Telecommunications has repeatedly received national recognition for its innovation and quality," Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, said during a news conference this morning at the new labs in the basement of Picken Hall.
"Today, we are taking a step forward to advance our curriculum and facilities to meet the needs of students preparing for jobs in a high tech environment. We know that wireless networks for voice, data and video will become standard in a few short years. Wireless Internet tools are becoming invaluable for businesses. Wireless connections are also being used to close the 'last mile challenge in rural areas' as rural residents seek high-speed Internet access."
The Hays Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors cut a ribbon to commemorate the support of local businesses for the university's educational mission.
"We are very pleased that Nex-Tech and its parent company, Rural Telephone, have joined together to donate the funds allowing the purchase of the wireless laboratory equipment," President Hammond said. "Partnerships with companies such as Nex-Tech and Rural Telephone create win-win outcomes. Fort Hays State has the ability to educate students in vital technologies, and employers like these can find the talent and knowledge in our graduates to help them serve western Kansas."
Larry E. Sevier, CEO/general manager of Rural Telephone and Nex-Tech, had to cancel plans to attend the opening of the labs so that he could attend the funeral of a long-time friend. Jeff Wick, Nex-Tech's chief operating officer, represented the companies. "We are very excited about the opportunities which will be provided to students as a result of this partnership between the university and Rural Telephone and Nex-Tech," Wick said. "FHSU has a long history of providing quality employees to our organization, and this investment in technology will further enhance the university's ability to develop tomorrow?s highly skilled and knowledgeable graduates who will help drive the region's economy. We believe these advanced technology labs have the potential to serve as a tremendous catalyst for high-tech economic development throughout the region."
Hammond explained that security has always been an issue in the computer field. "In an interconnected world where viruses, hackers and other threats create significant monetary damage and nuisance, network security has become vital," the president said. "The university is pleased to offer two new courses for computer networking professionals. On-campus, we will offer a very laboratory- and equipment-intensive, hands-on network security course. FHSU will also offer, for the first time this spring, an online seminar on network security."
Mark Bannister, chair of the Department of Information Networking and Telecommunications, said, "It is very exciting to dedicate a series of cutting-edge laboratories that have been built in the beautifully renovated space in Picken Hall, the oldest building on the Fort Hays State University campus. These labs allow us to instruct students using state-of-the-art computer networking tools. They allow the Department of Information Networking and Telecommunications to educate students in four of the 10 fastest growing occupation areas identified by the United States Department of Labor for the 2000-2010 era. These occupations include: Network and Computer Systems Administration, Network Systems and Data Communications, Database Administrators, and Computer Support Specialists. Facilities like these allow our program to attract students from a multiple state area and allow placement of students at firms across the United States. We are particularly pleased when we can educate students with the skills that allow them to find work in Kansas with employers such as
Nex-Tech and Rural Telephone."
Bannister added: "The overall goal of the Fort Hays State University Department of Information Networking and Telecommunications is to create a critical mass of IT employees and companies that can benefit from these employees. National statistics show that skilled persons working in high-tech fields earn substantially more than those in lower skill areas. We offer challenging and difficult classes that prepare students to design and implement networks for business, government, education and entertainment."