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County partners with Lockheed Martin to offer cloud-based STEM pilot program

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Published on: Wednesday, May 22, 2013

By Alexis A. Goring

Lockheed Martin recently joined forces with Prince George’s County Office of Information Technology and Prince George’s County Public Schools to bring cutting-edge technology to students and to increase innovative education that equips students for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers.

“It’s imperative that we emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in our school system,” Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III said in a press release. “Lockheed Martin has been a great partner, and I want to thank them and the Prince George’s County Office of Information Technology for this innovative pilot that will help our children gain valuable technical experience. By offering their talent, expertise and resources, Lockheed Martin and OIT will expose students to cutting-edge technology that will help to expand their thinking and perspective.”

This 90-day pilot program started in April and will conclude at the end of June. Three PGCPS schools have been selected to participate in this pilot program: Fairmont Heights, Suitland and High Point High.

During the 90 days, Lockheed Martin and PGCPS are looking to get the students to test out the technology and to educate teachers as to how to use it. They will also collect feedback. All of these efforts will enable the team from Lockheed Martin and OIT to build a working model for this new technology, which they plan to expand over the summer.

“This pilot program allows us to combine our technology expertise and corporate commitment to STEM education and Prince George’s County to give students the necessary tools for academic success and career development,” said Vicki Schmanske, vice president of information technology and security solutions for Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions, in a press release. “This program demonstrates forward-thinking leadership in Prince George’s County for maximizing cost-effective technology, like cloud computing, and collaboration and mobility tools to deliver skills-building knowledge right into the hands of students.”

Students participating in the pilot program have access to STEM resources using a secure, cloud-based environment. According to Christine King, director of Information Systems & Global Solutions-Civil’s Emerging Technology Team, a cloud-based environment is the use of computing resources that are delivered virtually over a secured network. Applications, such as educational software, are stored on a remote location and can be accessed by multiple users easily through a web browser on a desktop, a laptop, an iPad or any other mobile device.

Cloud computing also makes work easier for teachers because it allows the students and the teachers to have equal access to the same STEM resources, allowing them to share information, knowledge and research with each other.

Vennard Wright, OIT director/Chief Information Officer, helped create this pilot program. He hopes this partnership with Lockheed Martin will benefit the learning community without a huge overhaul of changing the way things are already done in the classroom.

“I don’t want to replace any existing technologies, but what I would like to do is to standardize technology across the board,” Wright said. “So what I mean by that is there are schools like Fairmont Heights, Eleanor Roosevelt and even Suitland that have great technology programs. But there are other programs where the technology is not really comparable to what is in those schools. So what I would like to see is that all of the schools in Prince George’s County have equal access to technology.”

Wright thinks this program will make significant strides in the education of students because it has the capacity to help each student achieve according to his or her learning style.

“The reality is that students all learn in different ways. It’s really not one-size-fits-all. So this really does give students the ability to learn on their own time because it’s going to be available 24 hours a day,” he said.

After the 90 days are over, the Prince George’s County Executive Office supported by the Division of Academics and Office of Information Technology will determine if this program can be expanded to other locations. If that is the case, King assures a team from Lockheed Martin will be ready to provide support.

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