GTECH helps URI train more computer scientists

KINGSTON, R.I. — December 14, 1998 — GTECH and the University of Rhode Island are helping to meet the acute demand for well-trained computer scientists. It’s a safe bet that the state will be the winner.

GTECH, the world’s leading supplier of on-line lottery equipment and services, has donated $25,000 to URI’s Slater Grant challenge. The monies will help increase the number of students choosing to major in computer science and computer engineering.

“Although the shortage of computer scientists is a national problem, we are proud of the fact that most of our graduates chose to remain in the state,” says Dr. Edmund A. Lamagna of Cranston, chair of URI’s Department of Computer Science.

GTECH is always looking for students with skills, according Diane St. Laurent, vice president, software at GTECH. Within the last three months, she noted that GTECH had hired 4 or 5 recent URI graduates.

The state’s Samuel Slater Technology Fund’s Innovation Partnership Program, launched last year by the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council, provides public funds on a matching basis to initiatives that will enhance the competitiveness of Rhode Island firms. URI, considered to be a key player in unlocking the state’s economic development potential, was awarded seven of the 15 highly-sought-after grants. The $100,000 grant awarded to the Computer Science Department, like other Slater grants, requires its public money be matched by private donations such as GTECH’s generous gift.

The funds will help upgrade and expand the computer science department’s EnVision Laboratory, which provides URI students the latest in technology. In addition, an additional graduate assistant will be hired to help students pursue their studies.

The gift will also help fund a summer computer camp for children 8 through 16. URI ran a pilot camp last summer that attracted and encouraged budding computer scientists.

GTECH and URI have an on-going partnership. URI faculty members have taught classes and held training sessions tailored to company’s equipment and services needs at its headquarters in West Greenwich.

At a Dec. 4 luncheon, URI’s Lamagna announced the University is kicking off a formal mandatory software apprenticeship program for computer science majors that will have both credit and pay components. GTECH has agreed to be one of the industrial placements.

The 12- to 15-hour week apprenticeship will place URI students directly into industries, giving students’ valuable hands-on experience in actual projects. Students will have both a faculty advisor and an industrial advisor.

Dr. Winifred Brownell, interim dean of URI’s College of Arts and Sciences, thanked GTECH for its tremendous support of the University. She said she has seen first hand the impact that partners of the University make on the lives of students and on the quality of the programs. “Computer science is a tremendous area of growth. Advances in the field affect every project in the world.”

For More Information: Dr. Ed Lamagna, URI, 874-2701

Julie Fenton, GTECH, 392-7452

Jan Sawyer, URI News Bureau, 874-2116