College isn't cheap, but along with those tuition bills comes value – the ability to pursue a personally rewarding and socially significant career, not to mention a lifetime of increased earning power.
And at Lawrence Technological University, that value starts the moment students sign up for their first classes.
Lawrence Tech was a pioneer in providing computers to all incoming undergraduates, starting a laptop program in 2000. And next month, new LTU students will get laptops loaded with software with an industry value of up to $116,000.
Charlene Ramos, director of help desk services at LTU’s Southfield campus, calculated the value of software on the three different kinds of laptop computers distributed to incoming students, depending on their academic program.
The Lenovo Yoga Tablet distributed to students in most programs in the Colleges of Management, Arts and Sciences and Engineering is loaded with software that would cost someone in industry up to $116,081 to buy. Included on the tablet for engineering students is industry standard software such as AutoCAD, Matlab, Simulink, Siemens NX and Solidworks.
The HP Z-Book distributed to students in architecture, transportation design, architectural engineering, civil engineering and game art has software with a commercial value of $92,986. Matlab, Simulink, and analytical software for engineers called Maple are among the offerings.
Finally, the MacBook Pro distributed to students in LTU’s audio engineering technology, media communication and graphic design programs has software with a commercial value of $13,530. Matlab and Simulink software are the most expensive parts of this package.
Ramos added that most software companies deeply discount their software to college students, or offer it for free – but that offer is only good as long as you are a student, and frequently requires the college participate in a software program as well. The prices she researched were for professionals in industry who were buying the software at retail price.
In 2000, LTU became one of the nation’s first universities to distribute laptops to students. Today, Ramos said, “we’re distributing more than 2,700 laptops to students, faculty, and staff every year, and that number is growing, with enrollment growing.”
Ramos said her research also shows that LTU’s combination of top-quality hardware and industry-standard software is unique in higher education. “We haven’t been able to find anyone else putting together this kind of program,” she said.
What’s in it for the students, Ramos said, is the ability to get familiar with the exact same software they’ll be using in their careers, in a group setting.
“The students benefit because of the collaboration, the idea that every student has the same software that their peers and instructors have, and they are never without a laptop,” Ramos said. Included in the LTU program is a 100 percent replacement policy, too: “If a laptop drops and breaks, they get a new one,” Ramos said.
LTU President Virinder Moudgil pointed to recent major software gifts from Dassault Systèmes and Siemens that have “enriched our academic experiences and the tradition carried in Lawrence Tech’s motto, ‘Theory and Practice.’”
Moudgil said Dassault’s Catia software is “used primarily in transportation design and architecture, and our students who become familiar with this software have emerged as young leaders in automotive design, winning many awards.” And Siemens’ Teamcenter product lifecycle management software is used in engineering, motor sports, industrial design, and operational engineering.
“What having access to fully functioning versions of this software does for our students is put them at the top of the list, enabling them to walk into work on their very first day and be productive,” Moudgil said. “They are using the same software here that they’ll be using in industry. They don’t need to be trained on the job. It’s like an apprenticeship here on campus.”