HAYS, KS -- Fort Hays State University officials and representatives from two of the nation's top information technology companies gathered this morning to announce the formal opening of a new laboratory for the Department of Information Networking and Telecommunications.
"Today, we are dedicating an on-campus teaching lab that is unparalleled in education in Kansas," said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president. "This lab allows Fort Hays State University faculty to teach advanced concepts that are key to Internetworking and telecommunications."
Hammond emphasized, "This lab is particularly special because of the personal relationships it represents among the faculty and students of Fort Hays State University, the Westwood Labs research facility of Sprint and the Kansas City regional office of Cisco. It also represents the close relationship within a family who are recognizing their daughter in a lasting way that will benefit hundreds of young people."
Dr. Mark Bannister, chair of the Department of Information Networking and Telecommunications, introduced Tim Kutzberger, director of field marketing, who is the senior Cisco representative in the Kansas City office, and Ron Cooper, manager of Sprint's Westwood Labs.
Bannister stated, "These individuals and their companies have been great supporters of the FHSU INT program. They have provided the exciting equipment in this lab. Tim gave from his own pocket and Sprint matched his efforts. Cisco discounted the price of equipment substantially, which allowed us to make the cash gifts go a long way. These two men have provided terrific support and advice for faculty and students. Additionally, they and their staffs have played a large role in helping Fort Hays State University information networking and telecommunications students find excellent career opportunities."
Tim Kutzberger stated he wanted to support the Cisco Academy at FHSU because of the quality of the students that come out of the program. "I've been impressed with Mark's tremendous leadership and with the quality students he is turning out. When we expand our operations, I want first opportunity to talk to his people."
Kutzberger said he wanted the lab named after his daughter, Emily, who died at birth and who would have been a sophomore in high school this year had she lived, "because my wife and I felt that this is the direction she would have taken."
Ron Cooper said, "Sprint has hired a number of graduates from the Fort Hays State information networking and telecommunications program. Other telecommunications companies have also benefited from the talent of this organization. Last year I hired three of these fine young people to work in my research lab. I have been very pleased and impressed by the quality of these new employees. They are very knowledgeable and capable. I had the opportunity today to bring two of these young alumni back with me so that they can share in this dedication ceremony and talk with current students."
Cooper introduced Jarrett Boxberger and Mathew Hund, both 2000 Fort Hays State University graduates.
Cooper said, "We do a number of things in Sprint's Westwood Labs that are unique in the world. That makes it an especially exciting place to be. It may be one of the best places anywhere to start a career in telecommunications, and we can be very selective in our hiring. I look forward to hiring more Fort Hays State graduates."
Kevin Shaffer, assistant professor of information networking and telecommunications, is teaching the courses that prepare students for the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Certification and Network Architecture and Data Communication courses. He and his students are most immediately benefiting from the lab. He explained, "The lab allows the teaching of four focus areas: Advanced Routing, Advanced Switching, Remote Access, and Internetwork trouble shooting of complex networks. Fort Hays State University was only the 18th educational institution in the country and the first in Kansas to be approved to teach this program. The CCNP program builds on the Cisco Certified Network Associate courses that Dr. John Durham, associate professor of INT, and Angela Eggers, instructor of INT, teach. We enjoy being a national leader in information networking and telecommunications."
Bannister closed the press conference by stating, "Faculty and students want to thank Tim Kutzberger, Sprint and Cisco. We want to thank President Hammond and the Fort Hays State University Strategic Planning Committee for their support of this project. We want to thank Dana Cunningham, director of facilities planning, and Ken Jacobs and his crew from building maintenance for renovating the room and Dan Pfeifer, coordinator of data communications, and his staff for extending fiber optics into this lab. Finally, I want to recognize Kevin Shaffer, Angela Eggers and the students who installed the equipment."
The Hays Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors cut a ribbon to officially open the new Emily Kutzberger Memorial Laboratory.