TSU to serve region

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 11, 1999

through technology network


The $1 million bond issue announced Monday by area Alabama Legislators will have far-reaching effects in Pike County, according to Troy State University officials.

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Besides funding the construction of a training center at Lockheed Martin in Troy, the money will assist in the formation of the Southeast Alabama (SEAL) Technology Network. The network will provide distance learning courses and training for area school systems, businesses and government agencies.

Sen. "Walking" Wendell Mitchell (D.-Luverne), Sen. Jimmy Holley (D.-Elba) and Rep. Alan Boothe (D.-Troy) were joined by Randy Stevenson, plant manager of Lockheed Martin’s Troy facility, and TSU Vice Chancellor Doug Patterson in making the announcement.

Patterson said the initial funding for the network of $1.75 million is provided by a combination of the $1 million state bond issue, a $400,000 appropriation from the Alabama Legislature and a $350,000 grant from the United State Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service, he said.

The network will use a combination of audio/video teleconferencing and the Internet to deliver the programs.

"The possibilities of this network are endless," Patterson said. "We’re taking the initial step of creating a communications hub for Southeast Alabama.

"This means that citizens in rural areas will have increased opportunities for better education and training."

Phase I of the project calls for building the training center at Lockheed Martin’s Troy facility on land donated to the university; two electronic classrooms in the Distance Learning Center in Wallace Hall on the TSU campus; and an electronic classroom on the campus of Lurleen B. Wallace Junior College in Andalusia.

Bill Flinn, assistant vice chancellor for technology, will direct the day-to-day operations of the network. TSU’s departments of Telecommunications, Radio and Television and Management Information Systems will install and maintain the audio, video and computer equipment for the network, Flinn said.

The Wallace Hall site will serve as the master control center for the network, he said.

SEAL’s first major project is providing courses for 11 rural high schools in Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Crenshaw, Henry and Pike counties, Flinn said. The first courses are scheduled to begin next fall.

"Troy State will work with the county school superintendents to decide what kind of classes to offer," he said. "Our Distance Learning Center, which will design the programming for SEAL, will work with teachers from each system."

Patterson said training for business and industry will play a large role in the network’s programming.

"The network can be used to provide specific training to one company, such as Lockheed Martin. But it can also provide training on issues that are common to all businesses, such as workplace safety education and compliance with the American with Disabilities Act."

The training program could be extended to local governments, patterson said., with continuing education for public officials and public-service employees such as police officers or firefighters.

Future plans also include the use of the network to assist rural hospitals and clinics with connections to research hospitals so that advanced medical expertise can be extended to rural area.

Patterson praised Gov. Don Siegelman and his staff and members of the Pike County legislative delegation in securing funding for the network.