Seattle millionaire Mack Lindsey was so frustrated with the bad equipment he used in college that he’s spending part of his fortune to fix the problem.
The 1976 graduate of Washington State University thinks his alma mater should offer the best in high-tech education, and he’s putting his cash behind it.
He is donating $1.3 million worth of computers, printers and software to hook up all 450 students in the architecture, construction management, landscape architecture and interior design programs.
The money, he said, comes from the sale of his family’s Pepsi Cola bottling franchises in Southern California.
At WSU, he earned degrees in construction management and architecture. “All we had then was one blueprinting machine, and it didn’t work,” Lindsey said.
The new computers are “going to help the kids get a jump on getting a job,” he said.
Architecture senior Jason Olson is using his computer to design a hypothetical hockey arena for the Olympic games in Salt Lake City in 2002.
“We haven’t begun to learn all of the power these computers have to offer,” said Olson, a student at WSU Spokane.
Olson and other fifth-year students are researching the feasibility of a public market in downtown Spokane.
Fourth-year students in Spokane are designing a Utopian urban village on the east side of downtown. The village would include a small elementary school and day-care center.
With the touch of a few keys, student Sean Williams calls up a three-dimensional drawing of the village, and then flies around it to see different views.
The computer, Williams said, “allows us to get the work done a lot more quickly.”
Williams of Las Vegas, said he used the computer to tap into the Internet and look at the design of the planned Olympic village for the up-coming games in Atlanta.
Associate Professor Doug Menzies said WSU now may have the best computer design program of any university in the country.
“The computer gives us more alternatives to look at different problems and to look at them in different ways,” Menzies said. “We can do things we couldn’t do before.”
Nearly 250 Macintosh personal computers were bought with the gift.
Those computers are equipped with the latest software, including a computer-aided design program.
The computers allow students to assemble information for a project, share that information with each other and then do the actual design on the computer.
In addition to going high-tech, WSU in recent years has merged construction management and three design programs to help students get a broader understanding of the issues faced by professionals in the related fields.
Next January, the four programs with about 90 students in Spokane will move into a new classroom building on the Riverpoint campus on East Trent.
Eric Sodorff, a spokesman for WSU Spokane, said Lindsey’s gift hinged in part on the decision of the university to develop an interdisciplinary design program.
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