Baltimore firm is likely to test Irish drivers

7-year pact includes setting up test centers for Dublin government

May 03, 2001|By Stacey Hirsh | Stacey Hirsh,SUN STAFF

As part of its push into the international market, Prometric Inc. is expected to announce today that it won a contract with the Irish government for computer-based driving tests.

The Baltimore computer based-testing company is also expected to announce next week that it won a contract to administer academic testing at the online university run by Mexico's Monterrey Technological Institute.

Financial terms of the deals have not been disclosed.

However, as part of the deal with the Republic of Ireland, Prometric will spend $3.3 million to set up the testing centers.

"Our business in America continues to expand, but our major expansion as a global organization has to develop outside the United States," said Stephen Phipps, senior vice president of Prometric's international business unit.

Prometric is a division of Thomas Learning, which is a unit of Thomson Corp., the Canadian conglomerate. Thomson bought Prometric from Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. of Baltimore last year for $775 million.

Thomson's Baltimore subsidiary delivers computerized testing for information technology industry certification, academic admissions and professional licensure and certification.

Though much of the testing Prometric handles for American companies is available overseas, the company's unit that handles contracts with foreign companies or governments has been growing and now makes up about 20 percent of Prometric's revenue, Phipps said.

Under the seven-year contract with Ireland, Prometric will provide a 40-question test that applicants must pass before taking driving lessons and a driving test.

The first test in southern Ireland will be delivered June 11.

Through the contract with Monterrey Technological Institute in Mexico, Prometric will initially administer entrance exams to graduate students.

Prometric eventually will administer computer-based mid-term exams to all students in both the online university and on campus, Phipps said.

Prometric also announced this week that it won a contract with Huawei Technologies Co., a telecommunications equipment manufacturer in China.

Through that contract, Prometric will administer internal computer-based certification exams to Huawei's engineers, Phipps said.

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