Telecommunications grant enhances M. Arch program

$59.5 K grant will expand number of courses offered in M. Arch distance learning program

The master of architecture program at Texas A&M's College of Architecture recently received a $59,528 Higher Education Grant from the Texas Telecommunications Infrastructure Board for the implementation of a distance education track within that program.

The grant, established by the TTIB to advance learning and improve public access to higher education in Texas, was distributed to two- and four-year colleges to foster ideas developing and promoting the expansion of advanced technological applications.

Prior to receiving the grant, the master of architecture program distance learning initiative was limited to the delivery of design studios. The grant will help fund the distance delivery of other core courses of the master program.

"The grant is allowing us to tap into a group of potential students that would like to acquire a master's level degree but are unable to do so because of their commitment to the firms they have been working with," said Guillermo Vásquez de Velasco, associate professor of architecture and coordinator of the master of architecture program at Texas A&M.

The College of Architecture award was only part of the $850,000 awarded by TTIB to Texas A&M University. In part, the funds will be used to purchase new hardware and software and to establish a distance education development unit in the College of Architecture.

The additional distance learning courses for the master of architecture curriculum will be available online beginning in the fall of 2003. In every case, the courses combine Web-delivered content and real-time videoconferencing in order to provide a rich learning environment that parallels the experience of taking in-campus courses.

"(The grant) is a door for a lot of other things," Vasquez de Velasco said. "We are going to learn a lot in the process of implementing these new distance learning courses, and they have the potential to create opportunities we have not yet imagined."

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