AT&T Aspire Grant Boosts Ivy Tech Programs

Thanks to $10,000 in funding from AT&T’s Aspire initiative, students enrolled in computing and informatics at Ivy Tech Community College’s Lake County campus now have access to more of the most updated equipment.

“AT&T is helping provide the much needed supplies to stay current in information technology,” Matt Cloud, chair of the School of Information Technology at the campus, said. “The purchase of routers and switches allows us to train students on the latest in not just basic networking, but also virtualization of networks, voice and video, while individual large-scale in-house wide area networks are built by 20 students at a time.

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“Students from several local high schools will be provided bus transportation to our campus to utilize the new mock data center space in the Arts and Sciences building in Gary.”

The money, which was donated to the Ivy Tech Foundation, means the Lake County campus will have a state-of-the-art data and cyber security computer lab. Ivy Tech plans to recruit 100 current Early College and dual credit high school students to participate in the IT program each semester.

“This is a win-win for our community,” said Louie Gonzalez, chancellor of Ivy Tech-Lake County.  “With this support from AT&T, we’re not only cultivating a higher quality workforce, we’re also helping to decrease the dropout rate by keeping kids engaged in learning about interesting potential careers.”

“This backing from AT&T is paramount, as the college works closely with dual credit students – particularly those who face social or economic challenges – to encourage them to take rigorous college-level coursework that prepares them for possible careers in computing and informatics,” said Ivy Tech Foundation Executive Director of Resource Development Cindy Hall.

Through the AT&T Aspire initiative, the company helps provide access to education and the training people need to get and keep good jobs.  Since 2008, AT&T has committed $450 million to programs to help millions of students in all 50 states and around the world.

“For our state and country to succeed in the 21st century, our workforce needs the right skills,” said AT&T Indiana Director of External Affairs Richard Leverett.  “So, we’re proud to support efforts like this, which are creating opportunities for young people to expand their technology talents and move into rewarding careers.”

Ivy Tech also is providing a pipeline to jobs in the industry in other ways.

“Students can take a free required course and get paid while local businesses get a free intern for eight weeks, courtesy of the Department of Labor TechHire grant program,” Cloud said. “Students between 19 and 29 or who are a veteran or veteran’s spouse can obtain the training and preparation for the CompTIA A+ certification and potentially five credit hours towards a degree.

“In addition, Ivy Tech statewide is the only college involved in the Salesforce PathFinder training program globally. Students are referred by Ivy Tech faculty, after having taken a few IT courses, to be a part of a 40-person student training team that studies for an additional four months with Salesforce online and two weeks in Indianapolis. From there, they may be offered an internship with Deloitte in the $50,000 to $60,000 range.”

Ivy Tech also is a partner in CISCO’s non-profit arm, CISCO Academy. Students are automatically matched through CISCO Talent Bridge to CISCO’s largest partners so the students can obtain employment after just a few courses. CISCO hires about 100 students from Ivy Tech statewide directly and CISCO employees are often adjunct faculty.  Jobs through this system typically range from $50,000 to $100,000 annually.

“It’s important for students to understand technology to succeed in a well-paying job today, and that starts with understanding the limits and advancements of the hardware architecture,” Cloud said. “Even basic cars now have networks and computers to run them.”

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