NSF Funds DCO Tech: Expanding Regional Capacity for Engineering Technology and Data Center Operations Education.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded NOVA a three-year grant, set to begin in July 2021, to advance NOVA’s educational pathways to engineering technology careers.
Principle Investigator (PI) Josh Labrie, Director of NOVA SySTEMic, the college’s STEM outreach program, is excited to build community awareness for NOVA’s engineering technology programs: “This is an excellent moment to raise awareness at the secondary level for these high-paying and in-demand career opportunities in the region by reaching students, educators and career counselors through the grant.”
Co-PI’s Amir Mehmood and TJ Ciccone, NOVA IET faculty members for the engineering technology and data center operations (DCO) specialization, will lead several pieces of the project including a 2-week summer bridge program and additional data center industry engagement. Ciccone, who is Vice-President of Operations at STACK Infrastructure alongside his NOVA IET Faculty role, said “I couldn’t be prouder to participate in this program and provide students the access they need to build the lives they want. I believe in the power of education to transform lives, and this grant is just one of the many initiatives to support that mission.”
Virginia has the largest data center market in the United States – almost as much as the second-through-fifth largest markets combined. Due to favorable regulations adopted by the Virginia legislature, data center capacity is forecast to continue growing. As advanced computing techniques, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, increasingly require access to cloud-based infrastructure, the need for data center technicians, engineers, and technicians will grow quickly alongside data center capacity.
Correspondingly, Micron Technology has announced a $3 billion expansion in northern Virginia to address the need for trained technicians and engineers.
DCO Tech: Expanding Regional Capacity for Engineering Technology and Data Center Operations Education is primarily focused on studying and expanding the educational pathway of students preparing for careers in engineering technology. The grant will expand NOVA’s newly revised engineering technology programs through improved recruitment, employment training, and by fostering a community of practice between industry, secondary educators, and NOVA faculty. It will also expand the workforce pipeline for engineering technology in the northern Virginia region and partner with industry to ensure that students are prepared for careers in the data center industry.
DCO Tech will increase the regional supply of engineering technology technicians through the following components: (1) a two week summer bridge program focused on career exploration and hands-on learning; (2) an internship preparatory programdesigned to support students in developing career readiness; (3) an externship for high school educators and industry professionals to develop first-hand knowledge of regional career pathways for engineering technology; and, (4) a veterans outreach program to inform military-connected students of NOVA’s engineering technology programs.