News Column

SAC adds IT certificate program, the first of its kind at a community college

June 25, 2014

Vela, Sierra

The technology industry is growing in San Antonio and now more students will be prepared to take advantage of that fact.

San Antonio College (SAC) received a grant award of $284,000 from the National Science Foundation to create an Enhanced Skills Certificate in Server Virtualization program.

The inaugural class graduated this spring.

"Server visualization and cloud computing is definitely one of the 'hot skills' in the IT community right now," Ron Carswell, Professor Emeritus and head of the Virtualization program at SAC, said.

The Department of Computer Information Systems at SAC is heading the program, which is geared towards students with a Computer Network Administration degree, an IT-related bachelor's degree, or three years of hands-on experience in IT server administration.

The program trains students in server virtualization and cloud computing, which is a growing trend as agencies, companies, and firms invest in newer and faster technology.

Students must complete four courses to earn the certificate.

Those who earn the Enhanced Skill Certificate can utilize their new skills in their current positions, increasing their productivity and value within their organizations.

Those planning to enter the job market will be more competitive candidates since most employers will be eager to hire people competent in the latest technology, especially cloud computing.

One of the courses is dedicated to OpenStack software training. OpenStack is an operating system developed by Rackspace and NASA in 2006 and used by companies such as Cigna, Comcast, Intel and PayPal.

Right now, SAC is the only community college in the United States offering this type of training. Product vendor and software firms also offer it but there are significant advantages to SAC's program.

"The typical vendor training program consists of 40-48 hours of classroom and laboratory instruction but we start from scratch with 'bare metal' servers. After 64 class hours in our $85,000 classroom, the students have built a fully functioning private cloud."

"Another advantage is cost. For students enrolling at SAC, costs range from $219 to $295 depending on class size," Carswell said.

Randolph Hall, entrepreneur, was not only a member of the program's first graduating class but also provided several students with scholarships to participate in the program.

"I needed training in OpenStack software, but only one other person was signed up for the program. I knew we needed to come up with a way to incentivize enrollment so I decided to set up a few scholarships," he said.

"The network of individuals in the class and Professor Mary Ellen Hardee have been incredible resources," Hall added.

The addition of this certificate program at SAC is not just beneficial to individuals. There's a much bigger picture to look at as well.

By providing enhanced and specialized training in virtualization, SAC is helping to build up San Antonio's concentration of skilled tech workers, which can ultimately help attract large tech companies and startups alike, bringing more jobs and further diversifying San Antonio's economy.

By Sierra Vela

For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: La Prensa (San Antonio, TX)

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