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Future Of Qualified Workforce Gets Boost From Collin County Community College

New college curriculum focuses on convergence technology degree and certification plans

February 06, 2006 - Collin County Community College (Collin) received a $2.4 million dollar grant in 2004 from the National Science Foundation to develop a degree in the field of convergence technology. Convergence is the integration of voice, data, video and image all over the same network.

Collin, along with Dallas and Tarrant County Community College Districts, has developed a convergence technology program based upon needs identified by business and industry leaders in the North Texas region. To help with the development of courses, a survey was sent to the members of the Convergent Technology Center's (CTC) Business Advisory Council, composed of business and community leaders as well as a subset of businesses in the Interlink Network.

As a result of this survey, Collin determined there is a need for entry-level jobs in both the enterprise market working with large networks and the home market, handling multiple technologies needed for a home or small office. According to B. Dwain Farley, managing partner corporate operations and business development for Enterprise Information Systems, Inc., "The purpose of this survey was to look at the future of technology education. With so many jobs available due to the lack of trained people in the workforce, this new curriculum should prove to be a strong tool to bring attention to the need for more convergence technology employees in the region." Farley is working with the college to create Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) modules for the curriculum. "I am anticipating hiring about ten convergence students per year," said Farley.

Other companies are forecasting hiring trends over the next few years. Several companies have indicated that within the next 2-5 years, they would be hiring convergence technicians with a two-year college education for more than 800 information and communications jobs that are available within the Dallas/Fort Worth region.

As part of the grant, the CTC developed several goals including developing convergence technology and interoperability curriculum to meet the workforce needs identified by the survey. Other goals are to equip regional faculty to teach convergence technology courses, recruit and attract underserved populations into the field of convergence technology and to function as a regional distribution center.

"Convergence technology in Dallas/Fort Worth is big business. The region is home to thousands of technology companies, budding entrepreneurs, and international technology leaders. We are bringing together many aspects of information and communication technologies to inform, educate and energize our students," said Ann Beheler, Dean/Executive Director, engineering and emerging technologies for Collin. The curriculum includes courses such as Voice over Internet Protocol, convergence technology, HTI (Home Technology Integration) as well as single office/home office. Students will also gain hands-on experience by working on case studies as a team to take on and solve real-world problems from various industries. Nationwide, several colleges have approached Collin about implementing the new convergence curriculum for their students, resulting in the Mentor Incubator Program being developed to help colleges with curriculum. Collin County Community College District (Collin) serves more than 40,000 credit and continuing education students annually and offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs. The only public college in the county, Collin is a partner to business, government and industry, providing customized training and work force development.