Tuesday, January 3, 2012

In which I belatedly announce PlantCML's name change to Cassidian Communications

As some of my readers may know, I work in the biometric industry. For most of the last two decades, I've worked out of an office in Orange County, California for a company that has gone through several different owners (and thus several different names).

People have left this company at various times to join other firms. In a few cases, several ex-employees have ended up at the same firm. One example was an Orange County company called Viacore, which was the destination for a number of former co-workers of mine - technical people, financial people, human resources people. Viacore was eventually acquired by IBM.

Some of my former co-workers ended up across the country, in North Carolina, at a company called VisionAIR. This company is still going strong today.

Another popular destination, also on the East Coast, is a company called DataWorks Plus. (Long story.)

What does all of this have to do with an Inland Empire business blog? Well, another population destination for former co-workers was a company called Plant Equipment, right here in the Inland Empire. Well, it's on the opposite end of the Inland Empire, based in Temecula. Plant Equipment wasn't a biometric firm, but a 9-1-1 firm (as it turns out, my employer was involved in 9-1-1 systems also - another long story). At one point I knew of at least four people who worked for Plant Equipment or an associated company.

As time passes, people continue to change jobs, and when I discovered the Twitter account of one of my former co-workers - actually, a former boss of mine - I discovered that he was now working for a company called Cassidian Communications. I checked into my former boss' new company...and discovered that it was actually his old company.

You see, Plant Equipment (which actually went by the business name PlantCML) changed its name to Cassidian Communications.

Back in March of 2011.

I really need to follow up on these things a little more closely.

So if you missed the news also, here's the press release:

PlantCML® changes name to Cassidian Communications, Inc., an EADS North America Company

PlantCML conducts complete rebrand: name and logo
A clear signal of the business unit’s ambition to further expand globally
New brand reflects the CASSIDIAN mission to support those who protect the world

Temecula, Calif., March 1, 2011 – Plant Equipment Inc., dba PlantCML®, an industry leader in mission critical communications, today announced its official name change to Cassidian Communications, Inc., an EADS North America company. As the largest and most trusted source of mission critical communications in North America, Cassidian Communications is leading the way in standards-based 9-1-1 call center applications, notification solutions and services and P25 land mobile radio networks.

Over the last several years, the company has gone through a series of acquisitions and was most recently acquired by EADS North America in the spring of 2008. Consolidating the company and portfolio of brands under that of the Defense & Security division of EADS, Cassidian, adheres to the strategic goals of enabling public and private operations to improve situational awareness, expedite response, promote collaboration and increase response efficiency.

The name Cassidian is derived from the Latin term cassida (helmet) and meridian (imaginary line running north and south). It symbolizes worldwide protection and security. The name is accompanied by a logo that represents a globe encompassed by two hands – hands that are protecting the world.

“The challenges of today’s mission critical communications require innovative solutions,” said Dave Rutan, chief executive officer. “Our customers expect our solutions and services to make everyday operations easier and more efficient. Now, these same solutions must easily scale to support larger incidents, geographic areas and security initiatives throughout the world, ultimately saving more lives. Becoming a fundamental part of the Cassidian master brand will allow us to leverage established market leadership and the global assets of EADS, and better deliver on these expectations.”

While the PlantCML brand has changed, its offices and employees, located in Temecula, California; Frisco, Texas; Franklin, Tennessee and Gatineau, Quebec, remain the same, serving clients ranging from public safety operations to Fortune 1000 corporations to federal agencies. Its solutions are resident in two out of three U.S. Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and more than 50 U.S. military operations. Cassidian Communications provides notifications to people in more than 100 countries, as well as to organizations in over 20 different industries.

Collectively, the company has more than 40 years of experience deploying 9-1-1 solutions, notification solutions and first responder radio networks.

About Cassidian Communications (www.CassidianCommunications.com)
As the largest and most trusted source of mission critical communications solutions, Cassidian Communications, an EADS North America company, is leading the way in standards-based E9-1-1 call center applications, notification solutions and services and P25 land mobile radio systems. Headquartered in Temecula, California.

About CASSIDIAN (www.cassidian.com)
Cassidian, an EADS company, is a worldwide leader in global security solutions and systems, providing Lead Systems Integration and value-added products and services to civil and military customers around the globe: air systems (aircraft and unmanned aerial systems), land, naval and joint systems, intelligence and surveillance, cyber security, secure communications, test systems, missiles, services and support solutions. In 2009, Cassidian – with around 28,000 employees – achieved revenues of € 5.4 billion. EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2009, the Group – comprising the Divisions Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 42.8 billion and employed a workforce of more than 119,000.

About EADS North America (www.eadsnorthamerica.com)
EADS North America is the North American operation of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $11 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 200,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. Operating in 17 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Note to students - economics laws apply, even in the Inland Empire

College is the time when many people transition into what is known as "the real world" - one in which you have to pay bills, and in which bad things happen if you don't.

But the college experience itself is giving many students a hard lesson in the intricacies of economics.

The Huffington Post recently ran a report on for-profit colleges and the nursing profession, and focused some of its story on two Inland Empire educational institutions - Riverside Community College, a public institution, and Ontario's Everest College, a private one.

The opening of the article sets the stage:

ONTARIO, Calif. -- Just after she started working for an ambulance company in this suburban enclave east of Los Angeles, Cierra Nelson came to admire the quick decision making and street smarts of the nurses she met on runs to local hospitals. She soon opted to pursue a nursing degree, settling on a low-cost, two-year program at a nearby community college that has an excellent job placement record.

But despite her efforts to complete the coursework in the ensuing four years, Nelson is still not a nurse. California's budget cuts have forced the state's community college system to scale back the availability of crucial science classes. Nelson found herself repeatedly turned away from the oversubscribed courses required for her degree.

Frustrated and seeking an alternative, she took out more than $50,000 in student loans to enroll last winter in a nursing program at Everest College, one of many for-profit institutions that have sprung up in the area amid massive cutbacks in public funding for higher education.

Nelson's experience is not unique. I know of a college student who spent last year at an out-of-state university. The student decided to come home and take courses at Rancho Cucamonga's Chaffey College - but couldn't get any courses. Next year, he's heading back out of state.

Many local students are facing this decision - pay more money by going somewhere where you can get courses, or staying in California's community college system and not getting the courses for years, if ever?

Some condemn the private institutions (Everest, University of Phoenix, DeVry, etc.) for several reasons. First, their students do not pass tests such as the nursing tests as much as public college students.

More than 90 percent of the nursing students at nearby community colleges last year passed state licensing exams, which are required to practice in California. Fewer than 70 percent of Everest students passed the exams, registering the lowest success rate of all nursing programs in the state.

Second, their more expensive tuition costs affect the use of Federal monies:

The Obama administration has significantly boosted funding for Pell Grants, which are available to low-income students. Over the last three years of the program, the federal government has more than doubled spending on Pell grants, budgeting $20 billion more this year than in the 2007-08 school year. For-profit colleges have captured an outsized share of this pool -- roughly 25 percent -- despite educating only 12 percent of college students nationwide, according to the most recent federal data.

Third, this translates into less money for public colleges:

Had the $7.5 billion that for-profit institutions received via Pell Grants during the 2009-2010 school year gone instead to fund community college systems nationwide, that money could have created capacity for an additional 629,000 community college students, The Huffington Post calculated, using available estimates for the average expenditure per student. That would represent a 20 percent increase in the number of full-time community college students currently enrolled nationwide.

Yet, anyone who has a basic understanding of economics would realize that this scenario is easily predictable. When a market good - in this case, a public community college education - is offered for less than the market rate, there will be scarcities of the good, and competitors will enter the market to meet the demand. And strange behaviors will result to provide economic benefit. One community college student uses various tactics to get registered for required courses:

Izaak Ramirez, a biochemistry major from Riverside, remembers stocking his first semester schedule with loads of unneeded electives, just to get courses under his belt. Having more credits means higher priority registration the next time....

As a science major, Ramirez has among the toughest times getting the courses he needs. For many of the classes, which require lab components, there are only about 40 seats for hundreds trying to get in. He eventually decided to join student government, partially to get involved, but also because it would move him up the chain for priority registration.

Even the community college administrators, such realize that the days of rock-bottom tuition may need to end:

Gray said that eliminating costs for students was an admirable goal decades ago, but no longer makes sense due to disinvestment in the system. He advocates raising fees to a level more in line with other states, or perhaps differentiating fees so that higher-cost programs, such as nursing, cost more than lecture classes like English or history.

However, Gray does not have the power to set tuition for Riverside Community College. That power rests several hundred miles away, in Sacramento. And any talk of a tuition increase results in hundreds of students protesting, so politicians are leery to raise fees - unintentionally resulting in the promotion of the cause of the private institutions.

Once you start analyzing the various players in the game and their economic interests, you can paint a pretty fascinating picture. The students who have classes. The students who don't have classes. The faculty members at public colleges. The faculty members at private colleges. The administrators at both types of institutions. The state politicians. The federal politicians. Other entities who are affected, such as the hospitals that want to hire nurses, the prison guards that want to keep their jobs, and the taxpayers.

So even when they can't get courses, California students are getting a real education.