Florida International University’s strong relationships with the information technology industry have helped the university secure $3.75 million in additional funding from the State University System – recognition of its success in computer science and information technology education.
“We are committed to providing each of our students with a high quality education that combines what they learn in the classroom with real-world applications and experience,” said Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Bejar, who played a key role in obtaining the award. “We are proud that our targeted efforts to engage with industry are bearing fruit. Our students are reaping the benefits and it’s a win-win situation for all involved.”
FIU ranked number one among the eight universities that submitted applications for a pilot program in performance funding for computer science and information technology programs implemented by the Legislature last session. The State University System’s Board of Governors awarded four institutions—FIU, the University of Central Florida, the University of West Florida and the University of Florida—each with a one-quarter share of $15 million.
“With the additional funding, our school can move to the next level in attracting the best faculty and students from across the country,” said Ram Iyengar, chair of FIU’s School of Computing and Information Sciences and Ryder Professor of Computer Science. “We are in a position to offer a superior educational experience in this field.”
The Board of Governors evaluated the universities on a number of criteria, including employment, certifications, university agreements, and student participation. FIU ranked number one in certifications and university agreements and reported 75 percent of its recent graduates in the information technology areas were employed in the state of Florida. Students included in the university’s application came from the College of Engineering & Computing and the College of Business.
Lenny Simon, an FIU graduate from the School of Computing and Information Sciences’ IT program, has benefitted from the university’s efforts to develop relationships with IT corporations and prepare its students for working in the industry. During his senior year, Simon was one of the first students to enroll in a new elective course called IT Automation, developed by Masoud Sadjadi, a faculty member at SCIS. The knowledge he gained in the course enabled him to pass the Kaseya Certified Administrator Exam, and after earning his bachelor’s degree, Simon accepted a position with Kaseya, an IT systems management software firm.
“When I first started the class I didn’t know there was that much to IT, that someone could manage a large group of machines the way you can with Kaseya, and FIU had the tools and the resources to show us that,” said Simon, a support manager for Kaseya and one of two FIU alumni with the company who now teach the course as adjunct professors. “Now when I teach the class I not only have experience and the background, I have real-world examples to share with the students.”
Amir Mirmiran, dean of FIU’s College of Engineering & Computing, said the college has the second largest computer science program in the country among those housed in engineering colleges and has developed strong relationships with more than 200 companies, including State Farm, IBM and Cisco, to offer internship opportunities to students.
Mirmiran said FIU’s top ranking highlights the university’s response to Miami-Dade County’s One Community One Goal initiative, which includes information technology among six key target industry clusters and skills that will help South Florida’s economic growth.
“This is the result of our investment in this area, showing that we are aligned with the needs and goals of the local community and the global marketplace,” Mirmiran said.