College of Science and Technology, has secured a federal contract through the U.S. Department of Labor.

Cross Campus Collaboration Nets N.C. A&T $7.5 Million Contract with U.S. Dept. of Labor

The Division of Research and Economic Development at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in conjunction with Lead Principal Investigator Dr. Cameron Seay in the College of Science and Technology, announces it has secured a federal contract through the U.S. Department of Labor. The five-year contract, with a value of $7.5 million, will commence in late October 2016 with the goal of increasing the numbers of underrepresented minorities and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related fields. The contract will focus specifically on information technology as it relates to talent development for mainframe computers, on which the global economy depends. 

IBM, a key collaborator in the grant proposal and apprenticeship program, has pioneered the mainframe through various innovations over the past decades. The IBM z Systems mainframe is a secure, high-performing computer system that remains the backbone of the global economy. The mainframe handles the core business applications for 44 of the top 50 global banks, 21 of the top 25 insurers worldwide and 18 of the top 25 U.S.-based retailers. As the demand for mainframe skills remains high, grants like this that pair technology experts and educators are key to providing the talent to keep these essential systems on the leading edge of business innovation. 

“As enterprise IT grows in complexity, businesses are finding it increasingly challenging to find mainframe talent to meet their most critical needs,” said Dr. Seay. “Fortunately, N.C. A&T has retained a robust and growing technology education and training program in this area and a network of committed partners to lend their expertise, and we’re ready to step up for the Department of Labor, the corporate entities, and indeed the world economy which relies so heavily on this important technology.” 

This contract has been named The LEAD-IT Project, which stands for Leadership, Empowerment, Apprenticeship, and Diversity in Information Technology. The five-year project, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, will involve seven N.C. A&T faculty, including Drs. Gina Bullock, Maya Corneille, Loury Floyd, Karen Jackson, Anna Lee, Evelyn Sowells and Seay as well as three full time graduate students for the full five years. The contract will be completed in several phases supporting impactful outreach activities including the events and training necessary to rapidly fill a pipeline of mainframe computing talent. 

Seay has been nurturing the university’s relationship with the Department of Labor for several years, with assistance from N.C. A&T Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Dr. Barry Burks. “Pursuing an opportunity of this magnitude has put our cross-disciplinary research strengths on display,” said Burks. “The resources and expertise across our Departments of Computer Systems Technology, Psychology and Education were all brought to bear on securing this project, and it’s an honor to serve the Department of Labor’s workforce development interests and to position our graduates to fill these high-paying, high-demand jobs in the IT industry. Although N.C. A&T is the lead institution on this project, we have assembled a strong team of collaborators including industry leaders and community service organizations.” 

Additional collaborators include the IBM Corporation, SHARE Association, IT-oLogy, Mobile Collaborative Education Consulting, Vets in Tech, Indiana University - Minority Serving Institution STEM Initiative, Mentor Services and Capital Area Workforce Development Board. 

“Businesses that depend on the mainframe as their core computing system are expressing a real need for talent that can work with the system,” said Ross A. Mauri, general manager, IBM z Systems. “IBM is committed to helping clients meet their talent needs by working with public and private entities and supporting programs like LEAD-IT that help promote these skills among talented and diverse individuals. Programs like this one, and those who benefit from it, are what will help shape innovation in the U.S. technology sector in the coming decades.” 

DORED manages N.C. A&T’s research enterprise. It serves the university and its research efforts through research services and project management, compliance and ethics guidelines, aiding in the submission of research proposals, handling financial and regulatory administration of all contracts and grants awarded to N.C. A&T, management of the university’s technology transfer and commercialization programs and promotion opportunities for undergraduates to conduct research.