Posted: January 21, 2009

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

Center thought to be first of its kind in the United States

Saint Paul College today announced the opening of a Sun Microsystems Center of Excellence to help create a next-generation “mixed-reality” teaching and learning laboratory. It is designed to combine virtual worlds and learners in remote locations with live classroom activities.

This laboratory is believed to be the first of its kind at an educational institution in this country. Working closely with Sun Microsystems, Inc., the college plans to create a “next-generation immersive learning” system, making it possible for learners in more than one location to participate in a rich learning environment.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony today featured Joe Hartley, Sun Microsystems’ vice president of education, global government and health care; officials of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities; and partners from around the world. The center is part of Sun’s ongoing strategy to spur innovation and give software developers of the future a center to teach open source technology and put it into practical use.

David Olson, chairman of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees, said: “This center exemplifies an important collaboration that holds great promise. We really appreciate Sun Microsystems’ investment in our system and believe it will open new worlds of opportunities for our students, faculty and staff. Sun clearly understands that investing in higher education expands and strengthens the skills that information technology workers need now and in the future.”

Warren Sheaffer, the college’s Computer Science Department chair and a faculty member, noted that Saint Paul College is the first two-year college in the country to receive the Sun Center of Excellence designation. “We’re challenging the whole notion of concrete, sequential learning by offering a rich learning environment that allows students to communicate with remote learners and experiment in virtual worlds,” Sheaffer said.

As part of the center, the college is offering two new two-year degree programs. The metaverse application design program provides training in graphic design, animation and art for the 3D realm. The other program, metaverse application development, is based on the college’s computer science curriculum and features courses in 3–D computer graphics and Java programming, among others.

Saint Paul College, a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, is a community and technical college that provides career and transfer education opportunities for more than 6,000 students annually.

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