Alcorn State University announced a multimillion-dollar partnership with IBM on an educational and outreach program designed to develop cutting-edge technological skills that align with evolving industry demands and trends. The grant allows students and faculty to expand the tangible skills they need for today’s IT workforce and the jobs of the future.
The IBM Skills Academy is a comprehensive, integrated program delivered through an education portal designed to create a foundation of diverse and high-demand skill sets that directly correlate to what students will need in a high-tech workplace. The learning tracks address advanced topics as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, blockchain, data science, and quantum computing. The partnership will also focus on research innovation, global collaboration, and job skills and recruiting. The IBM University Awards program sponsors competitive awards for faculty at universities worldwide.
Alcorn Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Ontario Wooden, is excited about the new partnership’s prospects for increased intellectual development among faculty and students. Wooden acknowledged, “Our objective is to expose as many students, faculty, and staff to the range of opportunities this distinctive partnership presents. Our faculty in math and computer science are actively involved in this initiative’s emphasis on strategic personal and professional development. We already have students who have received funding assistance and faculty who are sharpening their skills by participating in workshops and courses.”
The excitement around the program is also creating innovative thinking amongst Alcorn's faculty. Dr. Ping Zhang, chair of Mathematics and Computer Sciences shared his excitement for the opportunities for faculty professional development. He offered, “Dr. Lixin Yu, professor of Computer Science and Dr. Sadar Haque, an assistant professor of Computer Science have completed and received a certificate from IBM for a three-week training course: Internet of Things. Also, three mathematics professors are now receiving data science course training, which will be significantly helpful for developing a Data Science concentration.”
As part of IBM's multiyear Global University Programs, which include the IBM Academic Initiative and the IBM Skills Academy, IBM is providing more than $100 million in assets, faculty training, pre-built and maintained curriculum content, hands-on labs, use cases, digital badges, and software to select HBCUs. The IBM Academic Initiative provides access to enhanced resources at no-charge for teaching, learning, and non-commercial research, and includes guest lectures.
IBM’s collaborations with HBCUs like Alcorn are part of the company’s dedicated effort to promote social justice and racial equality by creating equitable, innovative experiences for HBCU students to acquire the necessary skills to help unlock economic opportunity and prosperity.