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IBM and CSUS partner up

Posted On : October 15th, 2008

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Sacramento State and IBM are collaborating to develop four new courses that aim to teach students about one of the most commonly used computer platforms in the world.

The courses will focus on using and configuring IBM's DB2 database applications running on the IBM System z mainframe.

Jasminder Singh, manager for IBM's DB2 for z/OS system, said professors will be teaching the courses while IBM will provide mainframe access to the students enrolled. IBM and Sac State are also exploring the idea of senior projects that students will be able to do in partnership with IBM.

Expected to be available in fall 2009, the courses will be both hands-on and lecture based. Students will get to know DB2 for z/OS via lectures and by also doing labs on the actual mainframe environment.

"These courses will be beneficial for students to fill in jobs that are opening up at IBM customers, vendors (and) partners," Singh said.

IBM is also collaborating with California State University, Long Beach and San Jose as well as Illinois State University and Tongii University in Shanghai, China to develop similar courses.

The collaborations are part of IBM's Academic Initiative program. The program strives to incorporate software and mainframe comprehension into academic curriculum by partnering with more than 3,100 colleges and universities worldwide.

Jennifer Clemente, spokesperson for IBM, said the courses and curriculum were designed by teams that combined IBM professionals with professors from each university.

"Each team combined their resources, notes (and) experiences to design the courses that reflected both the

industry and educational expertise," she said. "IBM's database experts from the Silicon Valley Lab in San Jose worked together with (Sac State) to create new courses on hot-skill areas such as enterprise computing, application development for DB2 and business process management."

The four courses include application development for a DB2 on System z, optimization and SQL performance for DB2 for z/OS database and DB2 for z/OS database administration.

This type of collaboration is not the first to take place between Sac State and technology companies. Currently, Sac State is also partnered up with Intel and Hewlett-Packard.

The partnership is a result of Sac State's interest in IBM's technology. Since IBM is one of the industry's main employers in the Sacramento region, Sac State officials found the collaboration beneficial to students.

"We design our curriculum to fit the major employers of our region," said Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences Emir Macari. "A course is particularly carved out to meet the needs of (a certain employer)."

Clemente said partnering with universities will help generate adequate database engineers, systems integrators and business process consulting experts for the mainframe computing environment.

"(The) U.S. is prepared to lose a third of the nation's most highly-skilled workforce with almost 80 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 set to retire," she said. "At the same time - according to labor research group SkillPROOF - the need for IT skill areas has grown an average of around 40 percent over the past four years in most U.S. metropolitan areas."

Macari said the partnership with IBM will provide students with the knowledge they need to enter the professional world.

"We need to train computer scientists to do this work because the ones that know how to do it are retiring," he said. "Since the dot-com bust, enrollment in computer science has gone down. People were telling (prospective computer science) students that they shouldn't (pursue the major) because those jobs would be outsourced to other countries. But now, there's a great demand for computer scientists."

Macari said that for the past two years, he has been telling prospective students it is a myth that there will be no jobs for professionals involved in computer sciences.

"This is the first semester in the two and a half years I've been here that we've seen a 15 percent increase of freshman enrollment for computer science," he said.

Of the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences, about 20 percent of the students are IT majors. The college expects that percentage to rise to 30 to 35 percent in the next few years. Carissa Wong, freshman computer science major, is excited about the new courses.

"I think (the partnership) sounds like a good idea," she said. "I'm the type of person that wants to know exactly what I need for my career and courses like these will (provide) that."

Nazhar Mohammed, who is currently working on his master's degree in computer science, is also excited about the partnership.

"I come from India, where (partnerships) like this don't really take place," Mohammed said. "The courses will provide me with the information I need to be successful in the future (because) IBM is one of the main employers in the Sacramento area."

Macari said the collaboration will bring funds into the university. The College of Engineering and Computer Sciences will be able to take the extra funding from IBM to offer students scholarships and trips to conferences.

The relationship with IBM will also provide students the opportunity to work on cutting-edge technology and will expose them to the hot items in the industry today, Macari said. Students will also be able to work with computer science professionals that are already working in the industry.

"Everyone's a winner here - the students and the university," Macari said.

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