Academic Initiative Lives Up To Its Name
October 26, 2015 Dan Burger
The day will come. You’ll be better off if you start preparing now. Skills replacement is something you have to plan for. Reacting to skills lost through retirement or other avenues is a too little, too late scenario. You build a skills pipeline by bringing people into your organization and you move them along through the company. Aiding that effort is the IBM Power System Academic Initiative, which has been making some notable progress lately.
Just a little more than a week ago, the Academic Initiative (AI) began promoting its new RPG course curriculum, a long overdue effort to upgrade this key component of IBM i studies at the collegiate level. Amy Hirst, director of Power Systems technical training (along with System z and Storage Systems), blogged about this last week. In her blog, Hirst describes the new RPG course as part of set of materials that “addresses RPG as a modern computer language and provides a sound foundation to new programmers.” The set of materials includes an updated RPG programming book (Programming in RPG ILE, 5th Edition by Bryan Meyers and Jim Buck) and a soon to be available RPG student certification. This set of materials–the college course, the book, and the certification–is the first student-level educational package in the AI catalog of college courses, which are free to registered PSAI schools and faculty members. It’s a giant step forward in matching coursework and teaching aids to the needs of college instructors. Prior to this, the AI provided colleges with IBM technical training courses written for IBMers, business partners, and customers.
Teach The Teacher
To further aid in the adoption of RPG courses, the AI began a pilot program that provides instructors with free online RPG education through the IBM Global Skills Partners LearnQuest and Global Knowledge. At this point, the AI “teach the teacher” training offer is being done in a reactive mode. Schools and instructors that contact the Academic Initiative can arrange for the no cost training. It’s not a formal program and it’s not being officially announced to the AI members.
This could be something that entices schools to begin an IBM i and Power Systems curriculum by making it easier to find knowledgeable instructors. It might also encourage people with IBM I knowledge to become instructors at the community college level. That’s not going to happen with the wave of a magic wand, but there are already a few people doing this. A month ago, I wrote an article about a program at a community college in Missouri that’s built on the interest of a single instructor with an IBM midrange computing background and a connection to a large company that hires students from his classes. More of this type of thing could be encouraged through COMMON and at the local user group level.
PHP On i Education
Also on the topic of courses available to the AI network of colleges, Zend Technologies has two PHP on i courses, with three additional courses (non-IBM i specific) to be added in 2016. According to PSAI program director Janet Caruccio, more than 20 schools have asked for the PHP on i course materials.
Students Attend Fall COMMON
At the COMMON Fall Conference earlier this month, 29 students and seven instructors were among the attendees. That’s a record number for student participation. Eight schools participated: Arkansas Technical University; Pennsylvania College of Technology; Lambton College in Canada; Wisconsin’s Gateway Technical College; Florida Polytechnic University; Florida’s Barry University; and Muskegon Community College and Baker College from Michigan.
Credit for accomplishing this IBM i youth group activity goes to the COMMON Education Foundation and the financial support it receives from the IBM i vendor community and the Power Systems Academic Initiative.
New AI Cloud
Starting today the Power Systems Academic Initiative cloud will be transitioning to its new home in Tucson, Arizona. Known as the Power System Connection Center, it provides Academic Initiative members with no-charge access to Power Systems technology for teaching purposes.
The new equipment is an upgrade from Power7 to a mixture of Power7+ and Power8 hardware. The system, which is housed at the IBM Tucson offices, includes a storage area network.
A high percentage of the contacts made by the AI team in the past six or eight months are brought about because of the cloud. It’s one of the primary reasons schools reach out to us. It’s very significant. We have schools that are waiting for that transition to become involved in AI,” Caruccio says.
The transition will be completed by the end of the year.