Sunday, May 21, 2000

Firm helps Mason teens

Drawing software used in classes

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        MASON — A partnership with Milford's Structural Dynamics Research Corp. — SDRC — has put a state-of-the-art computer-assisted drawing program into Mason High School, one of only 25 high schools nationally, and five locally, using the professional-level software.

        The I-deas commercial program was installed on 21 specially configured computers purchased at a discount from Silicon Graphics last fall and is being piloted by Dave Weiseman's advanced students. Next fall the program is tentatively scheduled to be used by beginning CAD students and those in an architectural/engineering CAD course. This summer, Mr. Weiseman will attend additional training sessions on the software's use at SDRC.

        Without SDRC's donation, the Mason schools would not have been able to afford the $430,395 cost for the software licenses for the computer lab, said Dan Mason, director of technology for the district. It is one of two CAD programs used. The students spend 12 weeks on each.

        “It's a good program but very different from Auto CAD,” said junior Dan Pawlak, 17. “It's easier to do 3D drawing with it. It's very visual. The icons tell me exactly what I need. It helps me remember where things are.”

        The program is the third-most widely used CAD program in the world, said Thomas Sigafoos, manager of SDRC's education consortium. It is the only design program used by the Ford Motor Corp., which requires its suppliers to use the program, Mr. Sigafoos said.

        With more than 1,000 openings in the Detroit area for employees trained in the use of the program, SDRC is providing its program at no charge to 256 colleges and high schools, Mr. Sigafoos said. Besides Mason, the program is being taught at Milford, Clermont Northeastern, Great Oaks and U.S. Grant Career Center high schools in the Tristate.

        “Enrollment in engineering schools is down the last few years,” Mr. Sigafoos said.

        “We designed this program to be used on two levels: to have the technical depth for aircraft which need a highly complex program but at the same time to be user-friendly at the basic level so it can be used by all ages,” Mr. Sigafoos explained.


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