Florida TEAm grant to accelerate pipeline for computer science, engineering students

The Florida Board of Governors has awarded Florida Atlantic University, Broward College and Palm Beach State College a $3.5-million state grant to create an accelerated pipeline for students in computer science and computer engineering.

The FAU/BC/PBSC partnership was developed in response to the  Board of Governors’ Targeted Educational Attainment (TEAm) grant program, part of an ambitious effort to align university and college degrees with the state’s future workforce needs. The grants went to collaborative higher education projects designed to produce more students for careers in high-need areas, from accounting to computer information and technology.

FAU, BC and PBSC created the Computer Accelerated Pipeline to Unlock Regional Excellence (CAPTURE) program to address the need for computer-related workforce development in South Florida, providing superior learning and professional development opportunities for more than 400 anticipated new students. The three institutions will collaborate on developing a hybrid curriculum to address workforce needs.

“We expect this program to significantly increase the number of well-qualified computer professionals available for employment in a wide variety of local businesses,” said FAU President John Kelly. “We hope to be able to replicate this approach in other fields of study that have an escalating need for highly skilled employees.”

The proposed curriculum is innovative and includes new and existing courses offered by the three institutions, taught by faculty who are leaders in the computer technology field. The FAU College of Engineering and Computer Science will increase the number of bachelor degrees in computer science and computer engineering, and graduates of the state colleges will be offered seamless admission to FAU. Students will be drawn into the pipeline from the three institutions’ existing student bodies, employees of major corporations and graduating high school students in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

“The program stresses breadth, depth and flexibility,” said Palm Beach State College President Dennis Gallon. “Although all students will be required to satisfy core requirements, they will have the ability to choose tracks and electives in accordance with their needs and interests.”

Practical training will be provided through internships in industry and government agencies, providing early exposure to the computer technology sector.

“One of the most helpful features of the program is the system of shared advising, which will keep students on track,” said Broward College President J. David Armstrong, Jr. “Students will be able to take courses at the colleges and FAU simultaneously to hasten their progress toward graduation.”

The TEAm grant awards follow more than 18 months of work by The Commission on Florida Higher Education Access and Attainment, a coalition of education, business and legislative leaders that identified the largest gaps between bachelor’s degree production and job needs. The effort marks an unprecedented level of collaboration between elected leaders, universities, state colleges and the business community.

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