U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected the total IT job openings in the US to be 1.6 million between 2006 and 2016. Only half of that number will be filled due to decreased enrollment and low retention rates in IT related majors. The same is happening in Tennessee—currently, the estimated demand for IT professionals in the Nashville area is as high as 1200 per month. However, the universities in middle TN are graduating a maximum of 380 graduates per year with an IT related bachelor degree. Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), Nashville State Community College (NSCC), Alabama Agriculture and Mechanical University (AAMU), Nashville Technology Council (NTC) and Mind2Marketplace (M2M) propose to address this critical need for IT professionals by becoming "partners for innovation in information technology (PIIT)"; to produce more and better qualified IT graduates. To produce more qualified students for the private companies and government agencies that constitute NTC and M2M, activities are planned around two goals: 1. Develop a model for recruiting more IT majors; and 2. Improve retention and graduation rates by introducing real-world projects into the IT curriculum.
To reach the first goal, academic and private partners will work closely with the high schools in the surrounding counties through academic-year seminars and summer IT camps. With the seminars, local IT professionals and university faculty/students will enlighten high school students, and teachers about IT careers, current developments in IT, summer IT camps, and provide a positive and attractive image of the computing profession. In addition, to increase high school students' interests in IT, week-long summer camps will be offered to high school students, with enticing topics such as Alice animation programming, robotics, and multi-media programming. To improve retention and IT education, real-world projects will be used to actively engage IT college students in meaningful hands-on projects. Academic partners will solicit real-world problems and projects from private partners so that computing courses can use real-world example problems and each summer college students and professors will solve real-world problems for partner companies. The projects developed during the summer will be made into case studies, which can be re-used in the following semesters as real-world case studies in the appropriate courses. Real-world problems and projects will increase the excitement among IT majors and aid retention.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 0917840. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.