The FedEx Emerging Technology Complex

Article excerpt


Recognition of trends in emerging technology, together with an appreciation of the potential of the Memphis economy and workforce, led to the concept of the FedEx Emerging Technology Complex. Visits to Silicon Valley helped obtain, combine, and develop ideas for this one-of-a-kind effort that will be a world-class standard for knowledge generation and the transfer of high technology. The main goal of the FedEx Emerging Technology (ET) Complex will be to dramatically increase the skill level of the greater Memphis workforce with technologically-talented, globally-oriented, and critically-minded graduates.

While becoming internationally recognized for continuously innovative learning techniques and technological initiatives, the Complex will focus on providing students with the high-tech skills necessary to succeed in a cross-functional, technical business environment. Students will graduate with a blend of both a traditional academic degree from any discipline offered by the University and recognized practical accomplishments, as evidenced by Industry Recognized Certifications such as Oracle Certified Database Administrator, Microsoft Certified Solution Developer, and Sun Micro System Certified Java Programmer.

The Complex will be a state-of-the-art, continuously-advancing, applied-technology facility. Initial efforts will focus on Broadband Internet Content and Delivery Virtual Reality, Wireless Telecommunication, and Rapid Application Development. In line with its forward focus, the Complex will support a Vision Program of futurist trend line analysis. A major initiative will be the Academic Accelerator that will promote faculty research and faculty partnerships with business and government.

Emphasis in the Complex will be placed upon advanced learning methodologies. The best of breed in current learning approaches will be advocated. The nature of learning will be a research focus. The facility will be a clearinghouse for advanced methods of high-speed instructional techniques. Long-distance learning, computer-based training, and Internet instruction will be some of the methods used, studied, and disseminated.

A primary impetus for the development of the Complex has been a call from the business community to prepare students to adapt quickly to the demands of work in an information-based economy. While technical skills are essential, the business community and society at large require much more. Employer recruitment officers not only emphasize the need for technical skills, but also emphasize the importance of skills in interacting with co-workers, customers, and business partners. Skills in communication, social understanding, and self-understanding differentiate those who will be productive employees (and citizens) from those who can perform only limited roles in an organization.

However, an interdependent global society also requires, more than ever, the abilities referred to today as "emotional intelligence." Therefore, the Complex must include preparation in collaboration and other interpersonal skills.

Evidence indicates that technology and, therefore, technology skills must change quickly. What is learned today will be updated or replaced very soon. Workers must be able to rapidly learn new content. While many aspects of learning require time-honored techniques, other aspects can be taught and learned more quickly. New methods of learning spawned by technology can provide rapid access to knowledge and skills for the multimodal learning expectations of today's television/computer/VCR/Internet generation. The Complex will serve as an accelerator for the application and discovery of those techniques.

The FedEx ET Complex will be a University-wide resource that will be managed by the Fogelman College of Business and Economics. It will be a major part of the greater Memphis High Technology Initiative. The FedEx ET Complex will focus on a student's lifetime learning, starting before the student reaches college. …