LeagueTLC IT Professional Column
Exploring Issues, Innovations,
and New Developments with Information Technology Professionals
The trends are clear and profound.
The American population is becoming more and more diverse. More
children are enrolling in public schools. Too many adults are entering
the workforce with poor basic academic and workplace skills. And
the Digital Divide, or documented inequity of access to computers
and technology skills by certain groups, threatens to exacerbate
social strata and cultural biases.
Surrounding these trends are growing concerns for the current and
future health of America's 21st Century economy and the shortage
of information technology (IT) workers. If American companies cannot
fill information technology-related jobs with qualified workers,
ultimately America's economic competitiveness will suffer. The impact
of these forces is seen, heard, and amplified throughout the Silicon
Valley of Northern California, home to the greatest computer-based
developments and worldwide technological innovations of this era.
With the focus and goal of producing more IT workers from underrepresented
groups, Foothill-De Anza Community College District, NASA, San Jose
State University (SJSU), and the University of California, Santa
Cruz (UCSC) have formed The Collaborative. As a joint venture
of academic, industry, and NASA leadership, the partnership is fusing
collective talents and resources to directly address Silicon Valley's
critical education and workforce needs through joint research and
When One Door Closes
In conjunction with the U.S. Navy base at Moffett Field, NASA has
a long history within Santa Clara County as a leading research and
science center. Last year's eminent closing of military functions
at Moffett Field charged NASA with the development of new services
and research avenues relevant to community development. Each member
of The Collaborative had established and signed separate
planning agreements with NASA for designated programs and services
within the NASA Research Park. Crossing traditional boundaries and
connecting working relationships, the newly directed NASA leadership
provided the impetus for multiple academic partners to leverage
strength and establish seamless educational models that address
critical demands for education and workforce development from K-12
through associate, baccalaureate, and beyond.
What to Expect
With relationships and commitment in place, planning processes and
implementation follow as the next steps.
Short-term goals: The Collaborative will use a $100,00
grant from the Packard Foundation to staff initial planning efforts.
Over the next 10 months, each institution will invest the equivalent
of $50,000 and assign a team of designated faculty and staff to
jointly develop programs in engineering, information technology,
and education. These newly created programs will provide a transparent
path for students to branch learning opportunities and skill development
certifications towards internships, research projects, and formal
Long-term goals: The NASA Research Park provides the optimal environment
for collaboration as a centralized service and community-based location.
The proposed developments include a joint use campus complex, not
a university or a community college, but a shared learning facility.
Using community and industry resources, the proposed buildings will
be developed with a broader vision and as world-class facilities
to house teaching, research, and economic development programs for
the Silicon Valley and the State of California. Members of The
Collaborative will coordinate development activities to raise
money and offer mutual funding plans for the shared use facilities
with the NASA Research Park.
Recognizing the time, energy, and investment of The Collaborative,
Foothill-De Anza Chancellor Dr. Leo Chavez claims, "In terms of
workforce preparation, higher education should go the extra mile
to meet the needs of our community, especially to prepare underrepresented
groups and minorities for high-tech jobs."