Fairfield University's School of Engineering video-teleconferencing project enables community college students to take classes not offered at their schools


A high tech video-teleconferencing (VTC) system to link Fairfield University's School of Engineering to seven community colleges will allow for the broadcasting of live classroom lessons by the School's faculty to college classrooms.

This has been made possible in part by the generous support of alumni and area corporations which have given the School of Engineering grants totaling more than $90,000 for the system. The contributors include Fairfield University alumni Rob Cascella, chief executive officer of the Hologic Corporation, a Bedford, Mass.-based developer of medical imaging and diagnostic systems; and Timothy K. O'Neil, a School of Engineering Advisory Board member and vice president of operations for ASML, the lithography systems provider. Also contributing to the project were the United Illuminating Foundation, the New Haven, Conn.-based electric utility company; and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, the Stratford, Conn.-based subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

The courses offered by Fairfield through the project are not offered at community colleges. The high definition video-teleconferencing system supports an academic alliance between the University and the community colleges, enabling their students to take Fairfield engineering courses at their home schools and receive credit for them from their respective college. The community colleges involved are Gateway Community College, Housatonic Community College, Manchester Community College, Naugatuck Valley Community College, Norwalk Community College, Three Rivers Community College, and SUNY Westchester Community College.

E. Vagos Hadjimichael, Ph.D., dean of the School of Engineering, said, "We will be offering to them calculus-based science and engineering courses that could not be offered at the community colleges for financial or demographic reasons."

The VTC technology enables faculty to webcast and record high-value presentations from a specially-equipped classroom in the School. The technology employed involves cost-effective IP bandwidth instead of costly satellite communications, phone lines or high-cost video production. With help from the high definition technology - resulting in vivid, TV-like broadcasts - Fairfield professors and students at community colleges can hear each other and see each other, as well as show each other things in real time, such as curriculum or content to help with teaching lessons. It features Polycom, Inc. software and Accordent Capture Station™ technology.

The academic alliance enables community college graduates with an A.S. in engineering science the option of transferring their science and engineering credits to Fairfield, leading to a B.S. in engineering in a minimal amount of time. The alliance also allows community college graduates with an A.S. in mathematics/science the option of transferring their credits to Fairfield, paving the way to a B.S. in computer or software engineering, in a minimal amount of time. For more information, call the School of Engineering at (203) 254-4000, ext. 4147, or visit www.fairfield.edu/engineering.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 20, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 97