Grant boosts Midwest IT training

AIM Institute

With a three-year National Science Foundation grant worth about $2 million, the Applied Information Management Institute is developing a virtual center to boost IT education in Midwest colleges and expand the potential technology workforce in the region.

The Midwest Center for Information Technology will be the focus for a regional partnership of 10 community colleges in Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota that will develop cutting-edge IT programs to address what is seen as a critical shortage of IT workers across the Midwest.

"There is still a national shortage of IT workers, even with the recession," said John Jeanetta, vice president of education initiatives at the institute. "But it's most acute in the Midwest."

The institute received the NSF grant Sept. 1, and a Web site that will be the main work area in which collaboration among the 10 partners will take place is almost ready to go live (www.midwestcenterforIT.org). Meanwhile, program supervisors have been placed at each of the participating colleges.

Jeanetta said that one of the first initiatives would be a program to improve the professional development of the participating college faculties, in order to provide certification in various areas of IT. That will include boosting the technology education of faculty up to the master's and advanced degree level, if necessary.

The result will be an enhanced teaching environment in which high school graduates will be able to take what they learn in school to the community college, and then be able to smoothly transfer to four-year colleges as juniors without having to retake courses.

The success of the program will be judged by yearly surveys of the numbers of students enrolling at IT courses in the participating colleges, and how many of those go on to a university and graduate. Employers also will be surveyed to analyze their demands and the level of satisfaction they have with newly degreed workers.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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