A new collaboration between The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and IBM will give students an array of marketable skills in data analytics, one of the fastest growing sectors in the national and regional economy. Smart technologies, cloud computing, mobile platforms, social media and other new generation technologies are fueling the revolution of big data.

According to IBM’s recent Tech Trends Report, only 1 in 10 organizations has the skills needed to effectively apply advanced technologies such as business analytics, mobile computingcloud computing and social business. In the U.S. alone, IT jobs are expected to grow by 22 percent through 2020 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As part of the UTC-IBM relationship, faculty have access to the resources in IBM’s Academic Initiative. This program provides access to technology, curriculum and learning materials at no cost for faculty members around the world. IBM has also provided advanced education for UTC faculty members, which has resulted in the development of curriculum, according to Dr. Joseph Kizza, Professor and Head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Kizza is currently teaching the course Big Data Analytics using IBM software, including Cognos, BigInsights and InfoSphereStreams.

“The collaboration with IBM is already helping the program to prepare graduating students with the most up-to-date and in-demand skills in the industry. This is going to help our students get better and more paying jobs. In the process, this will eventually help our recruitment,” explained Kizza.  “Additionally, we hold two Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Showcases a year where we invite high school students to spend a Saturday with us and do hands-on labs. This opportunity will help us demonstrate the latest technologies in Big Data analytics, for example, which may increase or ignite students interests in attending UTC.”

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the city’s largest private employer, also collaborated by providing guidance on the curriculum and sharing insights on the real-world skills needed for success. The company believes the program will not only help meet its own need for technical talent, but provide a boost for the entire community.

“I see UTC becoming a leading academic institution for business analysis and data management—it will begin to produce the business intelligence experts Chattanooga companies need,” according to Brian Green, Manager of Business Intelligence and Performance Management at BlueCross. “Through this collaboration, local businesses will be able to tap into UTC’s academic offerings to make their companies more successful in critical new areas like Big Data analytics.”

He says students who take advantage of these opportunities can become “immediately marketable” in this fast-growing field. “They will graduate with hands-on experience in the IBM tools commonly used in the workplace.”

Green, who graduated from UTC in 1980, has been in the business of information management and system development in the insurance industry for more than 30 years.

“UTC has been involved in the IBM Academic Skills Cloud pilot program and we are proud to support the university’s efforts to provide students with data-driven education,” said Dan Hauenstein, director, IBM Academic Initiative. “Through the IBM Academic Initiative, students and faculty have access to industry leading technology and courseware to help develop the advanced big data analytics skills needed for jobs of the future.”

IBM’s Academic Initiative provides no charge access to curriculum, software and learning materials to more than 30,000 faculty members around the world. For more information, see the IBM Academic Initiative website

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