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JCSU partners with IBM for national STEM development
One of 13 HBCUs in $100M tech program
Published Monday, October 5, 2020 3:36 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Johnson C. Smith University is one of 13 historically Black Colleges and Universities in IBM's Quantum Education and Research Initiative. The tech giant is investing $100 million in technology, resources and skill development.

Johnson C. Smith University is preparing for industries of the future.

The Charlotte school is one of 13 historically Black campuses participating in IBM’s inaugural Quantum Education and Research Initiative through the Skills Academy Academic Initiative in Global University Programs. IBM is investing $100M in technology, resources and skill development through the multi-year program.

“What it really is, is about opening up opportunity and access and strengthening the foundation for HBCUs,” JCSU Director of STEM Innovation Terik Tidwell said. “Johnson C. Smith has made strides with building strong tech and STEM talent. We have had a great relationship with IBM for over 20 years, but this is really another great step in a great direction for helping to accelerate some of the initiatives here at the university.”

The collaboration includes guest lectures, curriculum content, digital badges, software and faculty training. Topics range from artificial intelligence to cybersecurity to blockchain to design thinking to quantum computing, also known as industries of the future.

“A lot of that requires a very high level of computing technology,” Tidwell said. “With this, we’re helping to build the necessary skills needed to leverage that kind of technology, but also to do research. This is going to allow for the university to have $6 million worth of resources going toward faculty development, curriculum development, and also faculty research, and providing students with the opportunities and the tools get credentials in some of these technologies where they can out to the workforce and help build upon some of these kinds of jobs that really require these advanced skills and knowledge.”

JCSU offers minors in cybersecurity, data science and bioinformatics in the department of computer science and engineering. While the collaboration offers faculty the opportunity to expand on current curriculum options and develop new curriculum, it also allows students to earn credentials pertaining to a cybersecurity course, for instance.

“When a student completes a course they could receive a grade and a credential from IBM,” Tidwell said. “This is helping to establish industry recognized credentials for the kind of curriculum that they are receiving. It’s really tying together learning expectations and outcomes with industry recognized credentials.”JCSU is operating with a remote semester due to COVID-19, but that is not stopping the program’s implementation. Students have already received IBM credentials in areas such as data science and cybersecurity.

“It is really allowing students to learn and grow, even if it is in a remote environment,” Tidwell said.

Other participating HBCUs include: Clark Atlanta University, Fayetteville State University, Grambling State University, Hampton University, Howard University, Norfolk State University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, Southern University System, Stillman College, Virginia State and West Virginia State University. 

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