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Mobile App Development Funded For Columbia State

Collaborative Partnership Garners LEAP Grant of More Than $135,000

(COLUMBIA, Tenn. – Dec. 17, 2014) - - - Columbia State Community College is partnering with the South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance to increase workforce training opportunities by expanding the college's information systems technology program thanks to a $135,918 grant awarded by the state.

The 2014 Labor and Education Alignment Program has awarded funding for the - MAD about Technology Project - Mobile Applications Development and Innovative Technologies to establish a mobile applications development option within the college’s existing IST Associate of Applied Science degree program.  The new program will be available on the Columbia, Lawrence County and Williamson County campuses.

A 2011 report by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee states that programming and software development is on one of the most under-supplied career pathways in Tennessee. A recent projection reported that 7,000 more IT professionals will be needed in Tennessee by 2019, and a 36% increase in application software development is expected in Williamson County between 2013 and 2023.

“With mobile technology steadily growing, we strive to offer programs that are in line with the needs of our region’s employers” said Dr. Margaret D. Smith, Columbia State executive vice president and provost of academic and student programs and services. “By creating this new academic concentration, Columbia State provides educational programs that prepare students for emerging IT careers and give them direct access to IT professionals in their area.”

To ensure compatibility with the needs of the marketplace, students will learn to develop applications in Android, iOS and Windows, the three major mobile technology platforms. In addition, select Columbia State faculty members will receive additional training to better prepare them to teach the mobile app courses.

Once students complete their coursework, they will work at local businesses to gain hands-on experience through paid internships, introducing students to leaders in the field and increasing  students’ chances of obtaining a job after completing the program. Homeland Solutions Sourcing and Staffing in Franklin, Lawrenceburg Utility Systems, and neXperia and Wiremasters in Columbia have already pledged to directly support the partnership by offering internships.

The Columbia and Lawrence County campuses will use existing labs equipped with new Mac computers, while students at the Williamson Campus will use Williamson’s Information Technology Center of Excellence at Centennial High School. All three locations will receive Android, iOS and Windows training devices.

Columbia State plans to introduce a pilot course in application development for Williamson County dual enrollment students at the WIT Center in the spring. Once the program is fully launched at all locations, each section of the course will allow up to 24 students. The anticipated start date for the program is fall 2015.

The program encourages student retention and a potential increase in students by offering relevant education in a field where there is interest and a growing workforce need, which is directly aligned with the Governor Haslam’s “Drive to 55” initiative.

“The LEAP initiative is aimed at ensuring employers in Tennessee have the workforce they need to thrive and continue to create jobs,” said Mike Krause, executive director of the “Drive to 55” initiative. “This project fully addresses that need, and I think it will make a great impact towards helping our state reach the ‘Drive to 55’.”

Dearl Lampley, dean of the science, technology and mathematics division at Columbia State, and Jan McKeel, executive director of the SCTWA, will lead a committee comprised of representatives of the major partners, which include public schools, local government, chambers of commerce and employers from Maury, Lawrence and Williamson counties. The committee will meet each semester to guide and evaluate the program.

Columbia State’s IST AAS degree program currently includes options in information systems specialist, medical office technology, office information technology and computer networking/cyber security. The program prepares students to enter the workforce immediately after graduation.

Mobile application developers build, test, monitor and update software used in phones, tablets and laptops. Officials believe this to be the first app development AAS program in Tennessee.

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