MADISON, Wis. – April 23, 2009 – The first student from the Rock County Engineering Program will graduate next month after completing online courses recorded by Mediasite by Sonic Foundry, Inc. (NASDAQ: SOFO), the recognized market leader for rich media webcasting and knowledge management. The program was launched by UW-Rock County and UW-Platteville to educate aspiring engineers in the state of Wisconsin.
Bill Douglas, 45, from Beloit, Wis., will receive his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in May. “I always wondered if I got that last bit of education whether I would be able to take the projects I worked on to their full potential. I’ve worked as an industrial technician my entire life. In the past, even with an associate’s degree I could always find a job,” Douglas said. Recently, with massive layoffs from both GM and other employers in and around his hometown, Douglas discovered finding his next job would not be so easy. “I think the degree will make me more marketable. This economy makes it even more important.”
Curtis Faber agrees. From his home in Wausau, Wis., Faber is taking an engineering materials class via live and on-demand webcasts. “You look better in this economy with that degree behind your name,” Faber said. “I think finishing a degree online shows you’re disciplined, which is a benefit when looking for a job.” Faber said the time-shifting ability that Mediasite offers is a huge advantage as he looks for a fall internship. “As long as I have internet, I can go anywhere,” he said.
The Rock County Engineering Program is a collaboration between UW-Rock County, which provides students with general education requirements and introductory engineering courses, and UW-Platteville, which provides instruction in mechanical or electrical engineering. Students in the program can take courses online via Mediasite or traditionally in Janesville from three UW-Platteville faculty hosted in UW-Rock County’s Engineering Center.
Douglas credits his pursuit of a degree to the Rock County program’s flexibility. After being laid off in 2000, Douglas enrolled in an engineering program in Madison, Wis. “Driving from 50 miles each way from Beloit to Madison everyday for class wasn’t working. I wasn’t sure I wanted to invest any more time in it,” he said. Douglas quit school and went back to work. The online lecture initiative changed everything. “If it wasn’t for the Rock County Engineering program, I wouldn’t be able to get this degree, and a big part of that is streaming classes with Mediasite.”
“With Mediasite we’re helping students build their communities and maintain their lives,” said Anne-Marie Lerner, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the Rock County Engineering Program in Janesville. Lerner’s lectures are streamed online to students in Fox Valley and Marathon County, all areas that have been hit with recent layoffs and factory shut-downs. Lerner believes education is the key to a better economy. “We are creating a more educated workforce that will have the knowledge to solve problems and be the creative innovators of the future. Educational technologies like Mediasite will be a very big driver in this economy.”
“When we talk about educating the workforce we usually talk about training, but when people get a four year degree they have a career rather than a job. All of a sudden a lot of doors open that weren’t even there before,” said Lerner. “Those are the programs that allow people to be promoted to become managers or supervisors. With this degree you’re not only trained in engineering, but you’re also trained to reinvent yourself, innovate and adapt to the constantly changing workplace. And that’s what’s really valuable.”
Mark Bares is taking full advantage of the opportunity online courses offer. After leaving college to help run a family business, Bares had trouble finding a way to pursue his engineering career without giving up his income or putting his family at a huge disadvantage. “Mediasite is allowing me to fulfill a lifelong dream,” said Bares. “At 8:30 every night, after work, supper and putting the kids to bed, I start to work on class.” Bares often pauses the on-demand webcasts to work through concepts and ideas. “I’m getting all of the same information as the on-campus students,” he said. “I’ve been successful with Mediasite, and there’s no other way I’d be able to go to school and support my family.”
“This collaborative engineering program is a great model for using Mediasite to remove the barriers of time and place for individuals who see education as a key to their success in this economy. Sonic Foundry is proud to join the UW-Platteville and Rock County programs in cultivating education solutions to our nation’s economic problems,” said Rimas Buinevicius, chairman and CEO of Sonic Foundry.
The patented Mediasite webcasting and content management system quickly and cost-effectively automates the capture, management, delivery and search of rich media presentations that combine audio, video and accompanying graphics for live or on-demand viewing.
This announcement is part of Sonic Foundry’s next-gen education initiative. With its higher education Mediasite community now topping 600 colleges and universities, the company is highlighting customer stories that exemplify the convergence of technology and education. Through webinars, news and speaking engagements, Mediasite users around the globe are sharing their best practices for using lecture capture to bridge time and distance, accelerate research and improve academic performance.
About Sonic Foundry®, Inc.
Sonic Foundry (OTC: SOFO) is the global leader for video capture, management and streaming solutions. Trusted by more than 5,200 educational institutions, corporations, health organizations and government entities in over 65 countries, its Mediasite Video Platform quickly and cost-effectively automates the capture, management, delivery and search of live and on-demand streaming videos. Learn more at www.mediasite.com and @mediasite.
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