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JMU to increase computer science degrees with state investment

jmuJames Madison University will be included as a partner in the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Tech Talent Investment Program.

The TTIP provides funding to institutions of higher education that commit to increasing the number of degrees awarded in computer science, computer engineering and related fields.

Under the program, JMU has agreed to produce an additional 467 computer science degrees over 20 years while the state will invest in JMU’s computer science department more than $14 million during that time. The funding will be used to hire faculty who will bring new expertise to the classroom and offer a greater variety of research co-curricular experiences to our students.

Additionally, some funds will be earmarked to renovate computer science facilities that will be able to provide new and cutting-edge classrooms and labs. Currently, JMU’s Department of Computer Science awards about 102 degrees each year. The TTIP funding will allow them to increase that to 127 annually.

“JMU has a long history of meeting the workforce needs of Virginia and the mid-Atlantic region,” said JMU President Jonathan Alger. “Our computer science program is one of the best at turning out a diverse pool of top-quality talent. We are pleased that the Commonwealth of Virginia has recognized our program by including it in the Tech Talent Investment Program.”

The TTIP was created by the General Assembly as part of the commonwealth’s efforts to meet the employment needs of Amazon locating its second headquarters in Northern Virginia as well as the growing tech industry in the commonwealth. In November, 2018, Amazon committed to invest $2.5 billion to build a complex in Arlington that will host 25,000 full-time, high-paying jobs.

“This initiative is an investment in Virginians,” said Gov. Ralph Northam. “Virginia’s tech sector will continue booming only if we can train the workforce those jobs require. With today’s announcement, we are educating a workforce that will fill jobs at hundreds of tech companies around the commonwealth, including at Amazon, helping boost our economy and quality of life in every corner of Virginia.”

During a recent visit to JMU’s College of Integrated Science and Engineering, X-Labs and other programs, Brian Riley, a 2003 JMU alumnus and head of recruiting programs and strategy at Amazon, was impressed with what he saw.

“I think the work they’re doing here from an innovation perspective, and from a customer obsession perspective is exceptional. And it’s certainly something that would serve the students here well in a workplace like Amazon’s,” Riley said.

Other schools participating in the TTIP include University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University, the College of William and Mary, Christopher Newport University, George Mason University, Radford University, Virginia State University, Norfolk State University and Old Dominion University.