Congressman Steve Womack announces last week that North Arkansas College has received a $470K grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to prepare students to become Information Technology (IT) professionals.
IT jobs are expected to grow 10% in NW Arkansas over the next three years. This grant will allow Northark to provide remote access to an Associate degree in IT with leading edge content including cloud technologies, virtualization, and Internet of Things (the interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data). Modifications to the College’s existing IT program will allow for quicker completion, providing students with more current content knowledge when entering the workforce, and a focus on real-world project work and internships.
Northark offers an Associate of Science degree in Information Technologies with three areas of emphasis: General, Networking and Network Security, a two-semester Information Technologies certificate and a one-semester Information Technologies Certificate of Proficiency.
Dean of Arts, Sciences, Business and Information Technology Dr. Laura Berry knows IT graduates are in high demand, especially in Arkansas. “Support from a previous NSF grant allowed us to begin remote delivery of hands-on IT courses from the classroom in Harrison to students on campus at the Carroll County Center in Berryville. This new funding will allow us to expand this remote and online delivery to include more courses in more locations, enhance the curriculum with a broader range of content, and create a more efficient and flexible program schedule for students. We want to make sure that students in our region have access to emerging technologies and high-tech careers, even if they can’t come to campus for the courses.”
“The IT field is very broad and we need to have the means and resources to train future IT workers across a wide spectrum of technologies,” says Rick Williams, IT professor. “This grant will assist us in making that happen; giving our students more opportunities to enter the IT workforce with a well-rounded background attained through a variety of delivery methods.”
The grant will provide funding for NDG’s NETLAB+ which is a platform that uses real equipment to perform networking, cybersecurity, operating system, and server administration labs remotely. The grant will also help pay for a new router to provide increased bandwidth to accommodate this remote access.
An interview with North Arkansas College President Randy Esthers on this and other activities at North Ark from last week’s “Community Party Line” Program on BOOTZ County can be found on the BOOTZ Country Facebook Page.