Lockheed, Troy State open learning center

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Staff Writer

Hailed as a revolutionary venture between industry and education by Gov. Don Siegelman, the Southeast Alabama Technology Center officially opened its doors Tuesday.

The facility, which will bring industry and education together through technology, is a joint effort between Lockheed Martin Pike County Operations and Troy State University.

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Although it was constructed at Lockheed Martin, it will become a part of TSU’s Southeast Alabama (SEAL) Technology network.

Using a combination of audio/visual teleconferencing and the Internet, the training center will service Lockheed Martin’s pre-employment and post-employment training, as well as serving the citizens of southeast Alabama as a learning hub for technological fields of study.

The 4,200-square foot multi functional training center will houses the latest technological learning environment available in southeast Alabama, said Randy Stevenson, plant manager of Lockheed Martin Pike County Operations.

It will provide distance-learning for 12 rural high schools in seven southeast Alabama counties, as well as businesses and governmental agencies in the area.

The schools involved are: Goshen, Pike County, Bullock County, Clayton and Louisville in Barbour County, Abbeville and Headland in Henry County, Brantley, Luverne and Highland Home in Crenshaw County, Georgiana and McKenzie in Butler County, along with TSU and Lurleen Burns Wallace State Junior College in Covington County.

The courses taught in Butler and Crenshaw will be Internet based while the others will use videoconferencing.

Siegelman, who ran for the state’s highest office to make Alabama "the education state," said the facility puts Alabama another step forward in accomplishing that goal.

"Alabama has turned the corner and is on the right track," Siegelman said during the dedication ceremonies at Lockheed Martin.

He said the new facility means "we have changed education in Alabama forever and we’ve changed it for the better."

Education and economic development have been top priorities for the governor since he took office in January 1999 and, he said, programs like SEAL do so much to help both.

"Alabama is going to lead, not lag, in the 21st century," Siegelman said.

Stevenson said the Southeast Alabama Technology Learning Center is "an important step forward in the attainment of skill and education instruction" for current and future Lockheed employees.

"This is truly a milestone," Stevenson said.

Stan Arthur, president of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Orlando, Fla., expressed pride in what the Pike County facility has accomplished.

"This is a great occasion," Arthur said. "We never get too old to learn and we’ve got a lot of youth who need to learn."

Stevenson said, the project would not have been possible without Troy State University’s involvement.

"This training center is a reflection of a great vision," TSU chancellor Jack Hawkins said. "It also represents the first step on a long journey to assure that southeast Alabama spans the digital divide for all of its people."

Hawkins made four points using the SEAL acronym.

"S stands for stewardship. SEAL makes dollars and it makes sense," he said, adding conservative projections are the project will return $5 for every dollar invested by sharing resources.

The "E," he said, is for earning college credit; "A" is for alliance of the public and private partnerships; "L" is for looking to the future.

Because the SEAL project was made possible with a $1 million allotment from the Alabama Legislature, officials thanked the area legislators for support. That money was presented to Troy State and Lockheed Martin in November. According to Stevenson, the legislature’s allocation included $400,000 to construct and equip the training center.

With future funding, plans are to expand the project to include seven other high schools

in Conecuh, Dale, Geneva and Macon Counties and the J.B. Taylor Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Coffee County.

Lockheed Martin’s facility in Pike County does final assembly, test and storage of missiles in support of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Orlando, Fla. The 3,863-acre facility is six miles northeast of Troy. Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin Corporation is a global enterprise that is primarily involved in research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced-technology systems, products and services. The corporation’s businesses are systems integration, space, aeronautics and technology services.