Virginia Tech's College of Engineering and Fujitsu America have agreed to extend their alliance agreement through the 2012 academic year.

In announcing the continued partnership, Fujitsu remains the Tablet PC of choice for the entering students of the College of Engineering, currently the third-largest producer of engineering baccalaureate degrees in the country.

In April of 2006, Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering announced it would require its entering freshmen to purchase Convertible Tablet PCs. This type of PC has all of the functionality of a laptop and the additional capability to act as a notebook for pen-based input.

A month later, the college announced its decision to partner with Fujitsu and Microsoft to support its new PC requirement. At the time, Glenda Scales, associate dean, said the decision was based on price, weight, service, screen size, and years of experience with Tablet PCs.

Today, Scales remains in agreement with this original assessment after seeking competitive proposals from a number of vendors for a new three-year alliance.

For its part, Fujitsu will offer substantial educational and volume discounts to Virginia Tech. The computer giant also agreed to continue to work with the industry leaders of software technology to insure students have access to most current products.

Fujitsu will also train and fund one student technical ambassador who is able to assist his peers when they have technical problems. With faculty and staff, Fujitsu will help sponsor training or workshops, and other on-site resources.

Richard C. Benson, dean of the College of Engineering, said Virginia Tech engineering students have a history of being exposed to the uncomfortable leading edge of new technology. “Our personal computer requirement is 25 years old, and when we announced it in 1984, we were the first public engineering college to do so. Over the years, we have modified the requirements to where we are today, and that is still on the leading edge.”

In fact, after Virginia Tech announced its decision in 2006, Prism, the magazine of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) issued an article entitled “Take A Tablet.” It stated the tablet computers “have the potential to redefine the way engineering is taught.” The December 2006 article went on to say, “Virginia Tech’s new tablet PC requirement may seem unusual, but the school has the tradition of asking its students to embrace new technology.”

“Fujitsu has more than 20 years of experience in the development and manufacturing of pen-enabled computers which are ideal for the education market,” said Paul Moore, senior director of mobile product management for Fujitsu America. “With a reputation for delivering highly reliable, high performance tablet PCs and a commitment to evolving our convertible tablet PC family by incorporating the latest technology, Fujitsu continues to provide students and instructors with systems that enhance the classroom experience.”

In fall 2006 faculty teaching Engineering Education courses were the first to adopt the Tablet PC. Now faculty teaching sophomore-level courses such as statics are also teaching with Tablet PCs. Scott Hendricks, professor of engineering science and mechanics, teaches approximately 1,000 students statics and is an advocate of using active learning techniques in the classroom.

“Using a Tablet PC and DyKnow, electronic note taking software, has transformed the way that I teach. I come to class with professional drawings of all of the structures/bodies that we will analyze during the lecture that day. This saves a great deal of time, allows the student to understand the structure better, and allows me to cover more problems,” Hendricks said.

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