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IBM Says Over 20,000 Students Now Receiving System i Education as Academic Networks Better Connect Universities With Local Community


COMMON Annual Conference & Expo 2007 -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) highlighted today the momentum of the System i Academic Initiative, which has expanded System i education in colleges and universities to over 25 countries worldwide and is now educating over 20,000 students annually. Under the Initiative, IBM is collaborating closely with System i clients through academic networks designed to connect universities, clients and partners to collaborate on skill requirements and support students with internships, projects and, ultimately, jobs.

IBM also this week announced the winners of the System i Innovation challenge, a team-based student competition, at the annual System i user-group conference, COMMON, in Anaheim, California.

The System i Academic Initiative provides professors and students with hands-on access to the “all-in-one” System i business computing platform, including curriculum, industry experts and training. The Initiative includes academic networks designed to help drive internships and job opportunities for students while helping universities determine which course offerings are most relevant to local businesses.

“IBM launched the Charter for System i Innovation some two years ago and, within that, committed to stimulating partner teaming that encourages investment in new System i skills and solutions,” said Mark Shearer, general manager IBM System i. “The Academic Initiative has helped us to fulfill this commitment, in part through academic networks that allow universities to collaborate with local businesses so they can offer students an education that includes the skills they’ll most need to succeed professionally.”

Through academic networks, the System i community offers support to the universities in the form of guest lecturers and real-world projects for students to work on. IBM also helps universities both new and already involved in the System i Academic Initiative to organize System i career days and assists with other local recruiting methods to drive student interest in System i education. This includes summits that bring universities together with IBM, local System i clients and business partners to discuss skill requirements and university curriculum in a roundtable format.

For example, at a summit at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wisconsin in April, over 35 people from IBM, the college, the local System i users group and nearby businesses gathered to discuss which skills are most in demand in the community and how best to connect students with local companies eager to employ them.

Other recent summits occurred at schools including the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, University of Nebraska at Lincoln and Regis College in Denver. There are several more summits scheduled through the end of the academic year, including roundtables at Mt. San Antonio College, Virginia Commonwealth University and the IT University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

System i Innovation Challenge

IBM also announced this week at COMMON the winners of the System i Innovation Challenge, a team-based competition designed to enable students to exercise their skills and provide a new crop of students with System i education. Some 100 student teams from 50 colleges and universities across the US and Canada registered for the challenge. 75 percent of the universities represented by these students do not currently have a relationship with the System i Academic Initiative, so the contest successfully brought System i education and awareness to students unfamiliar with the platform and its benefits.

The grand prize winner is the team from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The team -- made up of students Julie Gavin, Wesley Fagan, Michael Jozaitis and George Zimmerman in collaboration with faculty advisor Dr. Rex Dumdum -- will receive prizes including a trip to Nintendo™ in Redmond, Washington to see how the System i helps power Nintendo’s operations as well as Nintendo™ Wii’s. The final stage of the competition called on the students to develop an innovative System i application and the team from Marywood developed a Web-based vacation planning tool.

“Nintendo is a longtime user of the System i platform and we want to work with IBM to educate students about the capabilities and opportunities the system provides,” says Don Birch, Nintendo of America’s information services business manager. “The winners of the Innovation Challenge will visit Nintendo to see System i in action soon.”

Based on the success of the first System i Innovation Challenge, IBM plans to introduce a student competition to college and university students in many countries across Europe in the Fall of 2007.

New Curriculum, Programs Expected

The System i is a business computing platform, so many universities participating in the Academic Initiative, like Marywood University, have begun to offer System i education as part of their MIS programs through their schools of business. IBM System i clients and partners want graduates to understand how to use System i technology to help solve business problems and many universities are enhancing their programs to unite technical skills with business knowledge.

The System i Academic Initiative supports this with a number of new business-focused course modules for educators to download and add to their curriculum. IBM is also in the midst of a three-phased development plan for technical education that will include System i certification exams so students can hit the ground running following graduation. Phase one should be completed and ready for the classroom in the Fall of 2007. Phases two and three are planned to follow in late 2007, into 2008.

About IBM

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