Florida State University’s College of Communication & Information will share a $3 million grant to fund the proposal “Expanding North Florida’s IT Career Pathways”, Florida’s Board of Governors announced March 20.
CCI partnered with Florida State’s Department of Computer Science, the Florida A&M-FSU College of Engineering and Florida A&M University’s Department of Computer and Information Sciences to propose the development of the “Florida IT Careers Alliance” (FITC Alliance).
The five-year grant was one of four totaling $15 million awarded by the BOG for collaborative higher education projects designed to produce more students for careers in high-need areas, from accounting to computer information and technology. The grants, which are funded by the Florida Legislature and approved by Gov. Rick Scott, are focused on aligning university and college degrees with the state’s workforce needs.
“The Alliance will focus on helping students from high schools, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities discover and realize opportunities in information technology careers,” Larry Dennis, dean of the College of Communication & Information, said. “The effort will foster stronger partnerships between Florida’s academic and industry leaders, build IT workforce capacity, and make Florida’s companies more competitive.”
“This timely grant award will enable us to build a sustainable pipeline of highly-trained students in information technology to meet the competitive workforce needs of the future,” Simon Foo, chair of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said.
The FITC Alliance will seek to:
- engage the K-20 education system in recruiting, retaining and placing qualified graduates for IT and computing professions,
- enable cooperation with academic and industry partners to assess and implement courses that help prepare students to successfully complete critical industry standard certifications, and
- establish a strong partnership between industry and North Florida’s educational institutions for IT and computing career development and placement.
The FITC Alliance will take advantage of the comprehensive suite of IT and computing academic programs already available at Florida State and FAMU, and utilize the model set forth by the successful National Science Foundation’s STARS Alliance program. Florida State and FAMU are both members of the STARS Alliance.
During its eight-year history, the STARS Alliance has demonstrated increased enrollments, higher retention rates and improved job placements for IT and computing students in colleges and universities throughout the southeast.
“The FAMU CIS Department and College of Science and Technology are excited to be able to expand upon relationships and strategies established through participation in the STARS Alliance,” Edward Jones, chair of the FAMU Department of Computer Science, said. “The BOG funding for the FITC Alliance seeds critical resources needed for a holistic and strategic approach to recruitment, corporate relations, professional development, and pre-career employment experiences.
In order to expand recruitment, retention and placement results at Florida State and FAMU, the FITC Alliance plans to establish long-term relationships with government and industry, initiating a series of regional career fairs focused on placing students in internship and jobs in computing and IT and computer science areas, providing ongoing professional development for students, and creating a strong web and social media presence that promotes IT and computing careers.
Through this grant, the FITC Alliance will also look to develop a better system of tracking placement with Florida employers and assessing retention of students after they have been admitted to Florida State and FAMU’s IT and computer science majors.
“We anticipate a greater involvement of regional employers in the infusion of workplace-relevant knowledge, skills and behaviors into the undergraduate educational experience, and in the placement of graduates into the State of Florida workforce,” Jones said.