CONTACT: GARY GALLUZZO
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0009; fax (319) 384-0024
Board of Regents to review proposed UI/industry computer software
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- If Iowa one day becomes known as "the Silicon
Valley of the Midwest," it may be the result of something called "Software@Iowa"
(pronounced "software at Iowa").
That's the name of a proposed University of Iowa interdisciplinary center
of excellence for software development that the Board of Regents, during
its Oct. 21-22 meeting in Cedar Falls, will be asked to refer to the board
office for review and recommendation. A joint initiative of the Colleges
of Engineering, Business Administration and Liberal Arts, the center is
aimed at encouraging more UI students to pursue careers in computer software
development at Iowa-based companies by uniting the UI and industry as partners
in software-related education, research and community outreach activities.
Operating in its educational capacity, Software@Iowa will develop and
offer new career-oriented courses in software technology development and
related subjects to students throughout the university. The courses, some
of which will be team-taught by university faculty and industry professionals,
will allow students to earn certificates to be established by individual
UI colleges and departments. In its research and community role, Software@Iowa
will host workshops and lectures and offer courses and other activities
over the Iowa Communications Network (ICN) and the Internet.
Funding for the center, which will be housed in the UI College of Engineering's
new Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences, is estimated
at about $80,000 per year, with much of it coming from industry and other
outside sources. The center is expected to work closely with the one-year-old
Iowa Software Association (ISA) to obtain funds for professional development
Rockwell-Collins software developer Roger Shultz, ISA president and
a co-director of the center, said that the center will encourage students
to build careers with Iowa-based companies. He said that Iowa industry's
future competitive advantage rests with today's software engineering students.
"Software development is one of the fastest-growing industries
in the state. There are more than 700 software-based companies in Iowa,"
Shultz said, "and local companies are very interested in having a
program to provide them with future software leadership." He noted
that the Iowa Department of Economic Development, which has been supportive
of the ISA, has a goal in common with the center and ISA: growth in software
development in education and industry.
Jon Kuhl, UI professor of electrical and computer engineering and center
co-director, said that the center will strive to become the best educational
program of its kind in the country.
"We expect the center to be similar in some respects to the university's
successful John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. We want to augment --
not compete with -- existing programs and classes," Kuhl said. "Courses
are helpful, but to be successful, you need to learn from experts out in
the world who are developing software in a commercial environment.
"We want to fundamentally impact the way software professionals
are trained," Kuhl said. "And at the same time, we want to help
software professionals increase the likelihood that they will be able to
establish their careers right here in Iowa."
Administratively, the project co-directors will be aided by a board
of directors including the deans of business, engineering, and liberal
arts, the UI vice president for research, the director of the John Pappajohn
Entrepreneurial Center, and an industrial representative. The board, which
will assist in oversight matters, and the co-directors will report to
the dean of the College of Engineering, who, in turn, will report to the
"Software@Iowa establishes another innovative model for excellence
in teaching and learning at the University of Iowa. It enables our students
to gain valuable "real world" experience by applying their skills
alongside Iowa professionals who one day may very well be their business
colleagues," Richard K. Miller, dean of the College of Engineering,
said. "The College of Engineering is especially proud to be part
of this exciting new industry-based educational center. It gives faculty
from three complementary UI colleges another opportunity to interact closely
with industry, sharing their teaching and research expertise in a vibrant
team environment. At the same time, the center will help develop leaders
in computer software innovation for the state of Iowa -- a long-recognized
characteristic strength of the University of Iowa in work force development."