Wicat Systems Inc. in Orem is celebrating its 10th birthday, and company officials say it is barely reaching adolescence.
CEO Bob Mendenhall said the company is always trying to be on the cutting edge of developing technology that will enhance computer-based education."Technology-based education is the answer to many problems the country faces today in education," he said. School districts that have implemented the Wicat teaching systems have seen results, he said.
Wicat is a company that produces software for educational and training purposes.
Michael Plante of Wicat corporate communications said the firm used to produce and develop quite a bit of hardware to accompany their other materials. But, he said, "We are de-emphasizing the hardware part of our company and are creating software that is compatible to systems which people already have."
Plante said Wicat is also attempting to strengthen its position as a systems integrator.
"This means that if we sell a system to a school, for example, we are now qualified to take care of the whole system - the software, the networking and the hardware," Plante said.
Ken Sorber, a Wicat sales manager, said one of the new pieces of software that should be released in 1991 is a program that will teach math in Spanish.
"People are really excited about this development," Sorber said. One of the biggest problems in bilingual education is helping the students continue to learn other subjects as they learn English.
This will allow Spanish-speaking students to keep up with the other students their age in math as they study English, Sorber said.
The other sector of Wicat emphasis is in professional training.
Plante said about two-thirds of the major world airlines use a Wicat system for aviation training.
"In the future, we also hope to expand into telecommunications, utilities and transportation training," he said.
Wicat is also working to make their systems client-specific.
For example, Plante said, operators who work in the "Tube" in London, on the New York subway system, or with the BART system in San Francisco each must learn very different ways to run these railways.
"We sit down with each of our clients and develop systems that will work for them," he said.
Wicat, the World Institute for Computer Assisted Teaching, was organized in 1977 by Dustin H. Heus-ton, an educator who believed that computers would be a great asset to education.
Mendenhall said Heuston chose to come to Utah Valley to be near a computer system at BYU called TICCIT.
"He thought it was the most advanced computer-based education system around at the time," Mendenhall said.