IBM Partnership Links Higher Education and Workforce Needs

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Update:  Photo Gallery from the July 12, 2012 Customer Summit is online.

Bridging the gap between higher education and industry, the IBM Academic Initiative matches graduates’ information technology skills with workforce needs. Fairmont State University is the only college or university in the state participating and is already experiencing successful outcomes.

“As a result of this partnership, Fairmont State faculty gain access to innovative technology, and our students receive first-class learning opportunities to prepare them for today’s competitive marketplace,” said Dr. Maria Rose, FSU President.

Through efforts coordinated by John Thompson, president/owner of Mobile Collaborative Education Consulting, FSU’s School of Business and College of Science and Technology receive guidance in how to best utilize IBM technology in the classroom and to prepare students to be leaders in the industry.  Thompson has facilitated faculty training and professional development activities required in support of IBM’s Enterprise Systems Program and assists with curricula development.

This week, Fairmont State is hosting a weeklong Enterprise Systems Faculty Training Session to be led by IBM’s lead trainer on the Enterprise system, Paul Newton. Representatives from other university IBM Academic Initiative colleges—Alcorn State University, Delaware State University, Lincoln University and Robert Morris University—have been invited to the FSU campus.

Today, July 12, IBM is holding its first Customer Summit meeting coordinated by Don Resnick, the global director of the IBM Academic Initiative. Resnick has invited customers using IBM’s Enterprise System Technology to meet with university faculty members to discuss corporate needs in the workforce and how to infuse curricula with the desired skill sets for graduates to be immediately employable. Participants will include Depository Trust Clearing Corporation, Highmark West Virginia, IBM Sales & Marketing, FBI/CJIS Fingerprinting, the Department of the Treasury/Bureau of Public Debt and PNC Bank.

After joining the IBM Academic Initiative in August 2011, FSU is quickly becoming a leader and creating important “firsts.” In March 2012, FSU was one of two universities in the nation invited to bring students to interview for positions with the Depository Trust Clearing Corporation in New York City. Later in March, two IBM executives—IBM’s Director of University Recruiting, Angelo Reid, and University Recruiting & External Communications Program Manager, Stephanie Malin—visited FSU’s campus for the first time and said they were impressed with the quality of students they encountered here.

“By exposing students to corporations like the Depository Trust, we allow our students to see the technology they are learning in the classroom being used in the real world. In addition, they get exposed to numerous career paths that they may not have been aware of,” Thompson said. “We are proud of the quality of student that Fairmont State creates and it is our honor to present these students to our friends at IBM and their partner companies.”

Two FSU seniors who participated in interviews received offers for jobs to begin this fall. FSU has been invited to bring students back to the Depository Trust for the next three years to interview for future opportunities.

Fairmont Senior High School graduate and computer science major Brett Clark is one of the FSU students who landed a job through the interview process. He will be part of the software development team for the Depository Trust in Tampa, Fla.

“At first, the opportunity was overwhelming.  Being from the small town of Fairmont, standing up against a company with the capabilities to handle over a quadrillion dollars in a single year I found myself in a surreal environment,” Clark said. “What really caught my attention however, was what happened just before my interview. I was waiting on the other side of the door when one of the employees walked up to me and struck up a conversation about the company, how long he had worked there, and what it is that he does. Nearly 15 minutes into the conversation I realized that we were having a legitimate conversation concerning the functionality of specific virtualization suites on the IBM System Z and how the implementation of certain specialized processors found exclusively on these systems gave him an exponential advantage in his work. By the time the door opened and they welcomed me in for the interview, I knew that I was prepared for anything they could possibly throw my way.”

Computer science major Adam Klinger also found employment through the Depository Trust. He will be part of the Depository Trust enterprise systems team in Tampa, Fla.

“By putting in the effort and working with individuals who know what type of people companies are looking for, we were able to get a ‘leg up’ in the job arena and have great opportunities immediately available upon graduation,” Klinger said.

Another student, James Burnworth, has accepted a position as a primary project representative with IBM in Hopewell Junction, N.Y. His job opportunity is a direct result of his course work at FSU under the IBM Academic Initiative.

A fourth FSU student, Nicolette A. Rueger, has accepted an opportunity to join IBM’s Sales and Distribution Summit Internship program in the role of Information Technology Specialist. She will be working in the Technical Exploration Center (TEC) at IBM’s prestigious Research Triangle Park site in Durham, N.C.

A new generation of FSU graduates is being called upon to utilize their combined business knowledge and technical expertise to embrace unlimited challenges and endless possibilities.


About the photo:

FSU graduates Brett Clark, left, and Adam Klinger have found jobs through the IBM Academic Initiative.