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Innovative University Program Drives Employee Success

Why collaborating with industry can develop better employees.

by AT&T / August 14, 2019

Technology has made an enormous impact on the world, and the pace of change is likely to accelerate. Innovation will ultimately create new classes of jobs. A better educated workforce improves the chances an individual will be prepared for these disruptions and new types of careers.

It’s not just about individual success. Preparing tomorrow’s workforce for higher education, nanodegrees and careers also positions communities for prosperity.

The best approach is an agile one. Learning must be a continuous process. And it doesn’t end with a college degree. Workers could potentially re-tool themselves multiple times in the future based on how the job market evolves and where future technology takes us.

To get there, education and training need to be fully accessible, and that means leveraging technology. Technology can empower students by giving them the tools, experiences and confidence to find a solution or solve a problem. Access to online tools, platforms and curriculum means students face fewer limitations on learning. This all hinges on collaboration between education and the private sector to make it happen.

One example that exemplifies this is the data science program at Notre Dame. In August 2016, Notre Dame announced a new online master’s program in data science. The move was a significant shift for Notre Dame, which has historically focused solely on in-person student experiences.

“The university has been hesitant to create online courses and online degree programs,” says Roger Woodard, inaugural director of Notre Dame’s new program. “But we felt this was an important area to get into. The future is going to have to involve different types of learning in addition to the traditional classroom.”

Woodard says data science was an obvious place to focus the first online program because of the growing demand for data science workers.

“Almost every industry now needs people that can deal with data at many different levels and who know how to make good decisions based on that data,” says Woodard.

Starting an online degree program from scratch can be time intensive and expensive. Fortunately, AT&T stepped up to help Notre Dame design and develop the program.

“We want to make sure we understand what industry needs and to train students to fill those needs,” says Woodard. “AT&T input has been invaluable in letting us know where they see the industry going and how best to prepare our students.”

Input from AT&T also helps Woodard develop agile learners who can evolve as data science evolves.

“Data science is changing constantly. There are vast numbers of new tools being developed and vast numbers of different types of problems being addressed,” says Woodard. “Working with industry partners helps us develop students who will be good employees today, and good employees 10 or 20 years from now.”

Notre Dame officially began classes in August 2017. Response has been overwhelmingly positive. Some of Woodard’s students are already moving into new positions at their jobs though they have not yet completed the program.

“One of our students was a high school math teacher and now he’s working for a data science company,” says Woodard.

To inspire educators and the private sector to help prepare students for the future, download the guide: “Leading the Future for Students, for Educators, and in Technology – Transforming education today to build the workforce of tomorrow.” Click here to learn more.

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