Laptops for Learning open to entire UT Austin community

     The College of Engineering has opened its Laptops for Learning Initiative `98 to all students, faculty, staff, and engineering alumni of The University of Texas at Austin. Now in its second year, the initiative was aimed primarily at engineering students last year.

     Dr. Ben G. Streetman, dean of the College of Engineering, has multifaceted goals for his initiative. He hopes laptop use will encourage independent student work, computer curriculum integration and student collaboration. He anticipates laptops will provide more convenient participation in web-based instruction which some faculty are expanding by setting up chat rooms. This year his enthusiasm for the initiative extends to the engineering staff. He is encouraging convenient computing by purchasing laptops with his endowed chair funds “to help more staff enjoy mobile computing.”

     Bob Gloyd, director of the Information Technology for the College of Engineering, worked with IBM, Compaq and other vendors to arrange custom configurations and aggressive pricing for the two computers offered in this year's initiative.

     The initiative offers the Compaq Armada 1571DM and the IBM ThinkPad 380XD. These configurations are not sold at retail outlets, but are customized in response to a College of Engineering survey of student needs.

     The two configurations were created with similar features, yet they have distinct differences which are reflected in the price of the machines. The Compaq laptop costs $1,799 and the IBM ThinkPad costs $2,150.

     The laptop initiative provides an alternative to the campus computer store which closed last month.

     Austin-based National Instruments will provide free software packages, but only to the engineering community. Nonengineering students and faculty will receive only an operating system.

     National Instruments is a leading supplier of computer-based instrumentation hardware and software products that engineers and scientists use in a wide range of industries in North America, Europe and the Asian Pacific. LabVIEW, G Math and HiQ software packages are all provided free to engineering students with the purchase of one of these laptops.

     Questions about the computers can be answered by Compaq or IBM. Compaq's telephone number is 888-215-8872, and IBM's number is 800-597-0555 Team ext. 3011. IBM has a deadline to order of July 17, 1998 and will begin shipments on July 1. Compaq will accept computer orders until early fall.