'Software U' addresses the national geek shortage

The US has a big problem. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the country needs 135,000 new computer professionals every year. But thanks to the dotcom crash and a misperception that all good jobs are going overseas, US universities are churning out only 49,000 computer science graduates per year. And many of those lack practical training.

by Forbes
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

Addressing this so-called 'geek shortage' is a new dedicated IT school, Neumont University, which is specifically geared to the needs of industry.

Founded by three Salt Lake City-based businessmen from financial and software backgrounds, the school sought the input of major IT employers like IBM which have enthusiastically backed the idea. Having invested $4 million in getting the school up and running, Neumont has now been backed to the tune of $20 million by the Boston-based private equity firm, Great Hill Partners.

Co-founder and president Graham Doxey aims foremost to please employers, producing what business needs. With this philosophy, the school is getting results: all 27 graduates from spring 2007 having jobs waiting, with a average starting salary of $61,000 – 20% more than the average computer science graduate's starting pay.

Convinced that business needs practically skilled IT professionals, Neumont avoids the theory-based approach, with students spending only 30% of their time on theory and 70% learning the newest technology, working in groups to mirror how software is written today. Most of the school's professors are recruited from corporations, including Microsoft, and IBM engineers sit on the advisory board.

Although some for-profit schools are not amongst the cream of US educational establishments, Neumont targets the best students, rejecting a fifth of applicants. It also cuts its prices to bag the academic cream. So it has pulled students from 44 states in the US and 10 foreign countries. Doxey aims for Neumont to become the biggest computer science producer in the world – a big ambition considering its 27 graduates in 2006 compared to the 4,800 emerging from the University of Maryland.

Still, Doxey predicts that Neumont's industry focus means his graduates will be better prepared and climb faster in corporate America than their peers emerging from more prestigious establishments like MIT. "Our guys may be their bosses," he says.

Source: 'Software U' addresses the national geek shortage
Tim Doyle
Forbes, July 24 2006

Review by James Curtis

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