By Ariel Wittenberg
April 18, 2014 12:00 AM
NEW BEDFORD — Siemens has donated $54 million worth of drafting and engineering computer software to Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational-Technical High School.
The grant to Voc-Tech was one of 13 given to technical high schools and community colleges throughout Massachusetts totaling $660 million of in-kind software grants.
Machine Technology teacher Maurice Bergeron, who applied for the grant, said the program, a lifecycle management software made by Siemens, will immensely help students by allowing them to digitally draft blueprints of machines they are designing.
Currently, students hand-draw designs of machine components before creating prototypes of them. With the new software, students will be able to design the parts and see how they work together, allowing them to fix design flaws before a prototype is created.
“It helps you do the tweaking first,” Bergeron said. “It takes out the guesswork and saves time from making version after version of the actual part.”
In recent years Siemens has donated similar technology in other states to just one or two schools. Eric Spiegel, president and CEO of Siemens USA wrote in a blog post Thursday that the grants are meant to help Massachusetts where manufacturing is the top contributor of the gross state product.
“When we talk about the impact of software and technology on manufacturing, it’s clear that the software revolution requires a highly trained workforce to follow in the footsteps of” manufacturing workers,” he wrote.
Spiegel wrote that the grants will help to expand and modernize manufacturing curriculum to make students more competitive in the job market. He noted that nearly 150 companies throughout Massachusetts use the Siemens software in their manufacturing, including Bose, Reebok and Raytheon.
The software will be used in machine technology, engineering and drafting classes, Bergeron said. It can be used to design any number of machine components.
“You can use it for anything,” he said.
Matthew Morrissey, director of New Bedford’s Wind Energy Center, said he hopes students will one day be using the software to design offshore wind turbines.
Siemens manufactures a number of products worldwide, including 75 percent of wind turbines currently installed offshore.
Morrissey and his team have been courting Siemens in the hopes that one day the company will agree to manufacture offshore turbines in New Bedford.
While Morrissey acknowledged that the grant to Voc-Tech is unrelated to his efforts, he said that, “A company the size of Siemens actively doing business in New Bedford can provide benefits to the city in a host of areas.”
“We are constantly looking for ways Siemens can play a role in the life of the city,” he said.
Siemens currently has 19 locations in Massachusetts, none of which is located south of Plymouth, and many of which are involved in the healthcare industry, according to the company website.
The company has 370,000 employees worldwide, 100,000 of which are in the United States. In fiscal year 2013, Siemens USA had a reported revenue of $22 billion and the company had a worldwide revenue of $102 billion.