High school students get tech primer with e-lab

An Ontario high school is creating an electronics lab to provide training to students and educators and whet the appetites of electronically-inclined adolescents.

Listowel District Secondary

School said the facility will be used by hundreds of students each year, including the school’s entire Grade 9 class. The e-Lab is sponsored by 26 companies, including Microsoft Canada Co. and Hewlett-Packard Canada Ltd.

“”A lot of kids make decisions for themselves during their high school years that they follow through on for life,”” said Blair McKay, an electronics teacher at the London, Ont.-area institution who spearheaded the two-year-old initiative. “”The idea here is to get people excited and to get the students excited.””

A former executive with video terminal company Keynote Computer Products, McKay establishing a similar computer lab two years ago for the Avon Maitland District School Board – a project that drew the attention of Research In Motion’s (RIM) president and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis. McKay said the encouragement, direction and support the RIM executive provided to the project was instrumental. Lazaradis personally donated $150,000 to the development of e-Lab.

“”Science and technology is taken for granted,”” Lazaridis said. “”It’s important stuff (for students) to realize … it’s science and technology that brought that signal into their television sets or to their wireless devices.””

Lazaridis added that he hoped other school boards would take notice of Listowel’s e-Lab and would be inspired to pursue a similar project.

“”I met Mike years ago when he was leading a fledgling company (RIM) with three employees,”” McKay said. “”He knew me well enough to know that I’d put together a team and make things happen.

“”Mike encouraged me to do this, and he really helped us get the capital together to get this project off of the ground.””

Bob Miller, HP Canada’s business development manager, education and health care, said HP had gotten to know McKay when it invested in his Lab 2000 project.

“”We’ve provided the server and storage technologies for (e-Lab) and all the workstations that the students will be using,”” he said.

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