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Creating High-Technology Learning Centers

HR Executive of the Year Jeff Shuman writes about the role of university relations and why it is more than just a vehicle for recruiting college graduates at Harris Corp.

This article accompanies Piloting His Own Path: Jeff Shuman, the 2011 HR Executive of the Year.

Sunday, October 2, 2011
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At Harris Corp., we view university relations as more than just recruiting new college graduates to work for our company. For us, true university relations means a partnership with the university for technology transfer, research and development, educational innovation through our Harris Foundation, skill preparation for students, development of future leaders and a pipeline of talent for our corporation. 

Harris is headquartered in Melbourne, Fla., and the University of Florida is our state's flagship university, consistently ranking among the nation's top 25 engineering schools. UF graduates, including the nearly 800 Gators walking our halls today, have helped make Harris a national and global leader in the communications and information-technology sectors.

It is imperative that we are providing our students the latest tools and learning facilities to prepare them to hit the ground running when they join the high-tech workforce. Harris' contributions to the Colleges of Education, Journalism and Communications and Engineering were, in part, to create these high-technology learning centers.

And by partnering with UF on these centers, we are helping them recruit the type of outstanding faculty and students necessary to maintain a vital and growing state economy -- which is an investment in our company's future.

With the College of Education, Harris provided funding to support a new educational technology annex called the Experiential Learning Complex. The goal of the ELC is to create a place where faculty and students can experiment with virtual teaching techniques and conduct cognitive studies on the effects of technology on learning.

Once completed, students will be able to create virtual worlds in which they can test ideas and concepts, or practice tasks in a qualitatively different medium not unlike the worlds currently found in interactive games.

As the leading supplier of broadcast equipment to the nation's major TV networks, Harris was approached by the university to help create a state-of-the-art, 21st Century News Laboratory for the College of Journalism and Communications.

The lab is equipped with the latest high-definition production and broadcasting equipment from Harris, which also assisted in the design of the new facility. It enables students to train in a fully networked, multimedia environment typical of today's commercial-broadcasting operations, providing them real-world, on-the-job training that will help them succeed in their careers.

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Last, but certainly not least, the College of Engineering serves as Harris' pipeline to the future.

Over the years we have invested in the College's students and faculty through building renovations, scholarships, endowed chairs, senior projects, lab creation, equipment purchases, and student and professional organizations.

Harris also has the opportunity to provide leadership on the boards and committees, which help to shape the college. In recognition, the university has dedicated the Harris Corp. Rotunda, the Harris Lecture Center and the Harris Gateway to Learning and Innovation in the College of Engineering.

Our partnership with UF is a win-win situation. Harris' support is helping to provide students a superior education and provide researchers the opportunity to solve real-world problems, while we have access to research findings that are important to new technology initiatives. The Harris/UF relationship is an excellent example of community benefits that result when industry and education work together to achieve larger goals,

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