IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Michigan Technological University today announced several initiatives to help students develop the multi-disciplinary skills required in a growing number of jobs and professions around the world.
Businesses today are looking to the next generation of IT and business experts for so-called “T-shaped” skills, which encompass both deep business skills, represented by the horizontal line of the “T,” and technical understanding, represented by the vertical line. Top prospects will understand the dynamics of the globally integrated enterprise, can work across geographically distributed teams, and have experience using open source technologies to address real world business challenges.
IBM is teaming with Michigan Tech to develop curricula and sponsor an ‘on the job’ learning program to encourage the development of these sought after skills. In an effort to encourage the use of open source technologies, IBM has donated WebSphere software with the agreement that any assets created through these programs will be made available to other universities around the world at no charge.
Michigan Tech recently introduced a Service Systems Engineering program to address the expansion of the services sector, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports represents more than 80 percent of the U.S. economy and is continuing to grow.
ver the past five years, IBM has been working with more than 150 universities around the world to grow the adoption of Services Science, Management and Engineering (SSME) http://www.ibm.com/university/ssme which is similar to Michigan Tech’s program. Taking a multi-disciplinary approach to education, SSME looks at how factors such as technology, relationship, culture, economics, and processes inform and impact the service business.
Moving beyond the classroom, IBM and Michigan Tech want to give students a chance to apply their academic expertise and problem solving skills to real world business challenges. Unlike an internship or a cooperative work experience, Michigan Tech’s Enterprise program http://www.enterprise.mtu.edu brings together a small group of students that study different disciplines in a start-up business environment — the students are compensated for their work and they pay rent and other overhead costs.
IT Oxygen http://www.itoxygen.com, partially sponsored by IBM, is a student-run team focused on using cross-disciplinary expertise to solve some of the most challenging business process issues facing the university. By working in a team that spans academic disciplines, the students get natural exposure to new ways of thinking and problem solving.
“The program brings together students from various geographies and academic disciplines, closely reflecting what it’s like to work in today’s globally integrated enterprise,” said Jim Frendewey, associate dean of business and economics, Michigan Technological University. “Giving students access to IBM technologies and thought leaders provides our students with an advantage when they reach the workforce.”
As part of the program, IT Oxygen team members are getting a chance to apply a service oriented architecture (SOA) approach to improve business processes at Michigan Tech. SOA is a business strategy that helps a company reuse existing technology to more closely align with business goals resulting in greater efficiencies, cost savings, agility, and productivity. SOA http://www-306.ibm.com/software/solutions/soa represents a $160 billion market opportunity, and a growing source of jobs worldwide, making it an essential part of an employee’s skills base
IT Oxygen is getting hands-on training by developing solutions to improve Michigan Tech’s course scheduling tools with regard to classroom, student, and professor availability. Using WebSphere software, the students can model and simulate how the processes can be transformed before they actually go in and do the work. The team is also using business process management (BPM) enabled by SOA to streamline many processes associated with submitting a grant research proposal. IT Oxygen creates open source solutions to address all of these challenges, making them available for reuse by other universities.
“Michigan Tech’s Enterprise Program operates in a way that is very similar to IBM’s Extreme Blue internship program http://www-913.ibm.com/employment/us/extremeblue, putting a small group of cross-discipline students together in effectively a start-up business,” said John Soyring, vice president, solutions and software, IBM. “The program provides the students with a chance to build SOA skills while seeing what the future of work looks like in terms of bringing together individuals with different areas of expertise to solve difficult business challenges.”
Much of this is made possible through IBM’s Academic Initiative, a program offering a wide range of technology education benefits to meet the goals of colleges and universities. As a member of this initiative, participating schools receive free access to IBM software, discounted hardware, course materials, training and curriculum development. Nearly 2,000 universities and 11,000 faculty members worldwide have joined IBM’s Academic Initiative.
Michigan Tech is also part of the World Community Grid http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/newsletter/video/viewVideo.do which is focused on creating the world’s largest public computing grid to tackle projects that benefit humanity.
For more information about the Michigan Tech program, go to: http://www.enterprise.mtu.edu/ or http://www.enterprise.mtu.edu/archives/2004/09/itoxygen_inform.html