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IBM Teams with Universities to Help Teach 21st Century Skills

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IBM today announced it is teaming with University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) and North Carolina State University (NC State) in Raleigh to deliver new courses on programming languages that have become the foundation of the emerging Web-based economy. These skills are critical for young people entering the global workforce today, IBM said.

Businesses today are looking to the next generation of IT experts who understand the dynamics of the globally-integrated enterprise, who can work across geographically distributed teams, and easily utilize different open-standards technology assets to quickly develop enterprise mashups, plug-ins, and other Web 2.0 resources, according to IBM.

As part of today's announcement, IBM is working with UCLA and NC State to expose students to Web 2.0 technologies using languages such as Java and Groovy, in addition to programming platforms such as Eclipse and Ruby on Rails.

At UCLA, students in computer science class CS130 can opt to work with IBM mentors on Web 2.0 and Eclipse plug-in projects they design themselves. Meanwhile, graduate students at NC State in Raleigh have the first-ever opportunity to get their hands on Project Zero, a new IBM-created Web 2.0 development environment for creating enterprise mashups and rich Web applications for a variety of business needs.

Later this year, IBM will release Lotus Mashups both commercially and at no charge to the academic community. Lotus Mashups includes an easy-to-use tool that helps individuals with no IT skills create and share any type of situational application on the fly. Using Lotus Mashups, business users can quickly assemble together components from across the Web and in the enterprise, including functionality built using Project Zero.

According to Connecticut-based labor demand research company Skillproof, the number of job openings for IT professionals in the United States increased by 45.2 percent from 2004 to end of year 2007, with open-standards and Web 2.0 development skills topping the list of job openings. Even as the number of IT jobs has declined from mid-2007 through early 2008, open-computing skills remain proportionately hot, said IBM.

Choose Your Own Technology Adventure at UCLA

To help prepare students for the ongoing demand for open computing skills is a class project IBM pioneered for UCLA's CS130 Computer Science class. "Choose your own (technology) adventure" operates on a simple principle—harnesses students' interest-areas to shape the coursework rather than on standard textbooks and syllabi.

Selecting from open technology areas, students propose their own course projects, ranging from a mobile phone mashup that alerts users about local events—to an iTunes-like personal music player that lets users play music trivia games, share playlists, and build communities. From start to completion, IBM experts provide hands-on mentoring to students to boost their software engineering skills, improve team collaboration, and gain exposure to best-case practices from IBM's own development groups.

"Choose your own (technology) adventure is giving UCLA students a truly unique opportunity to learn software engineering skills from the best and brightest at IBM such as working in a team environment while learning collaboration, networking, (and) rapid decision making," said Professor Paul Eggert, who teaches the CS130 class in UCLA. "Throughout the project, they are researching and evaluating technologies and connecting with open source developers and industry experts. This method is helping us attract more students to learning about these key technology areas by making things like Java and Eclipse extremely relevant to their areas of interest."

With the help of IBM, mentors Jeff Tan and his fellow students created an event planning application called "Bounce" as a part of their CS130 class last spring—a learning experience that has inspired Jeff to attempt other projects—such as a Web 2.0 gaming portal. "Web 2.0—I barely knew what it was until that quarter, and now I see no way back," he said.

Added teammate Gabe Nataneli: "From a software engineering perspective, coming up with a well-defined project is one of the biggest challenges. IBM's course method helps us learn these crucial skills by putting a huge emphasis on project development and definition," he said. "Students in our class liked working with IBM because of the freedom 'Choose your own (technology) adventure' offered. The result is a project we can show to prospective employers."

Now on its fourth quarter at UCLA, over 50 students and 27 IBM mentors have been working together on mashups, Ruby on Rails, and Eclipse plug-in projects.

Project Zero at North Carolina State University

At NC State, an IBM incubator project called Project Zero is being used to teach students to develop business applications by taking advantage of simplified programming methods, rich Web interfaces, and enterprise mashups.

In this spring's graduate level computer science class, students will be among the first group of developers to work with this new development environment. They will learn to use Project Zero with Groovy and Java to develop a time-slot signup system—a common type of situational business application—without the need for in-depth architecting. The Project Zero incubator is being hosted at projectzero.org.

Bringing open computing skills to the enterprise

IBM's latest efforts expand on its university programs—emphasizing both IT and business skills to meet the needs of a competitive, global workforce at over 2,400 universities worldwide and for over two million students. These initiatives include a series of mainframe programming skills for Linux taught at the University of Arkansas to a program designed for the University of Arizona to help students build, run, and manage blogs, wikis and mashups.

This year, IBM's Academic Initiative plans to dedicate resources worldwide to drive double-digit growth. It also plans to increase the number of worldwide events to host local customers, software companies, and universities on skills such as around large systems such as IBM System z —and associated open-standards based middleware.

"By collaborating with universities on new methodologies, the resources available through its Academic Initiative, IBM is poised to help faculty and students get an edge on the needs of the marketplace," said Jim Corgel, general manager of IBM's ISV and Developer Relations group. "The efforts now taking place at UCLA and NC State are just part of how IBM is helping universities adapt to the quickly changing world of technology. We accomplish this by exposing students to tomorrow's technologies today and sharing best practices from IBM's global development teams."

For more information on the IBM Academic Initiative, visit: www.ibm.com/university. More information about the Project Zero community can be found at the community website: www.projectzero.org.

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider, helping clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM's hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently, and securely. IBM's breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM's legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity, and service.

For more information, visit: www.ibm.com.

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