Last Updated: Apr 27th, 2015 - 11:04:56

Tech company donates software to Va. schools
By Ashley McLeod, Staff Writer
Jun 5, 2014, 14:57

ASHLEY McLEOD/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks to the crowd at the ‘Building the Future’ event at CCAM in Prince George, where seven Virginia colleges and universities were awarded more than $1 million in grants for STEM education.
PRINCE GEORGE — Engineering and electronics company Siemens announced Wednesday a more than $1 billion investment of in-kind software grants to seven Virginia community colleges and universities.

The announcement was made at the “Building the Future” event held in Prince George at the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Marketing, a research facility used to improve research processes of surface engineering and advanced marketing.

The event featured a panel discussion on manufacturing from leaders in the field, as well as speakers from state government, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

The grants were established and announced by Siemens, a global company that specializes in electrical engineering and electronics, and were established due to a growing need for skilled workers in the state’s manufacturing industry.

“Our country’s workforce has too few people trained in the skills needed in areas of manufacturing, health care, technology, and other industries where STEM degrees, or STEM education is required,” said Eric Spiegel, president and CEO of Siemens Corp. U.S.

The grants will be used to give students at the selected colleges and universities access to product lifestyle management software used in the global manufacturing industry. The software is the same software used currently by Siemens in order to further development, implementation, and manufacturing of products in several industries, which include automotive, electronics and shipbuilding.

“Our software is used by the automotive industry to develop vehicles, as well as NASA to develop rovers and rockets,” said Bill Boswell, senior director of partner strategy at Siemens.

The PLM software used by Siemens, which will be available to students, is a product lifecycle management software, which allows for a more structured management of products, from initial design, to development, and disposal of said products.

According to Boswell, more than 77,000 companies around the world use Siemens PLM software to design, stimulate, test, and manufacture their products. This includes approximately 90 companies in the region, including Canon, Rolls-Royce, and NASA Langley.

Seven different academic institutions from across Virginia were chosen to receive the grants in order to better train students for real world occupations.

Among the seven institutions chosen was Virginia State University, which will receive $105.6 million in grant money. The grant will be used to further programs in manufacturing engineering, computer engineering, computer science, electronics engineering technology, logistics technology, and mechanical engineering technology.

Virginia Commonwealth University was also chosen and will receive $230.9 million to further learning in the School of Engineering and School of Business.

Also given grant money were Thomas Nelson Community College, located in Hampton, who will receive $954.7 million; New River Community College, located in Christiansburg, who will receive $64.3 million; Old Dominion University, located in Norfolk, who will receive $746 million; ECPI University, located in Richmond, who will receive $130.3 million; and Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, located in South Boston, who will receive $33 million.

The software will allow students to develop more advanced understanding and skill level in their field of study in order to have the advanced level of knowledge following completion of their degree, allowing students a better chance at finding employment after graduation.

“We need to focus on education and training, that is necessary for real job growth in this environment,” Spiegel said.

According to a study cited by Spiegel, 7 in 10 educational institutions believe recent graduates are ready for work, but only 4 in 10 employers believe these students are ready for work. Spiegel also cited that three-fourths of young people believe they have the skills necessary for the jobs today, but more than half of the employers say the students do not have the skills.

“There are jobs out there. ... We’ve got to make sure that we’re doing what we need to do to match the skill set for the jobs that exist today,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who also offered advice to students, telling them to “think big, take risks, take chances.”

The use of this PLM software will help to train students, but will also help to build the manufacturing industry in the state, creating new jobs and filling those which can not be currently filled. According to Spiegel, there are more than four million jobs unfilled in America today, which is a recent figure released from the Department of Labor.

“This PLM academic community will develop a highly skilled future workforce in a wide variety of STEM related occupations, that will ensure that Virginia can take advantage of the software revolution and keep more jobs right here, at home,” said Boswell.

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