UT, Board of Regents Receive $1.17 Million Grant

KNOXVILLE — A joint effort by the University of Tennessee and three State Board of Regents schools has resulted in a $1.17 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to train information technology workers.

The Learning Anytime Anywhere Partnership (LAAP) grant will be used to develop and launch a cooperative Internet-based education project designed to increase the number of information technology professionals in Tennessee and across the nation.

The three-year grant is provided through the department-s Funding for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education program.

Dr. Robert Leiter, UT dean of outreach and continuing education, said UT, Nashville State Technical Institute, Roane State Community College in Harriman, and Pellissippi State Technical Community College in Knoxville worked with other partners in business, industry and state government to win the grant.

Educational and business partners will contribute an additional $1.4 million over the life of the grant, Leiter said. They include the Computers for Homebound and Isolated Persons (CHIPS) program of the Knoxville Oak Ridge Regional Network (KORRnet), Bechtel, Scientific Applications International Corporation, Internet Pictures (iPIX), Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), Course Technology, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and The Chauncey Group.

Leiter said the Tennessee higher education institutions project, known as the Information Technology Credentials through Electronic Pathways Partnership, will provide students access to educational certificates and degree “pathways” via the Internet.

“A study released this year by the Information Technology Association of America reports that 843,328 information technology jobs will go unfilled in the next 12 months,” Leiter said. “The Tennessee consortium of academic and business partners is excited to have an opportunity to work together on this benchmark project.”

Sydney Rogers, vice president for community and economic development at Nashville State Tech, said the teamwork in Tennessee higher education will help meet a national demand for information technology workers.

“Collaborative programs such as this leverage the resources of our state-s unique academic and business partners to address a critical national issue–severe shortages of information technology professionals,” Rogers said.

The project is designed to allow each academic partner to develop courses, which will be available from all institutions via the Internet. All courses will be transferable between the institutions as enrolled students complete courses required for each educational level.

Credentials awarded by partnering institutions will be dependent upon the types and number of courses students complete. For example, Nashville State Tech will offer a one-year credit certificate program while UT’s Outreach and Continuing Education will award non-credit certificates through its Internet Learning Institute.

UT will award the bachelor’s degree. The associate degree in Web development/administration will be awarded through Pellissippi State while the associate degree in technical writing/electronic publishing will be awarded through Roane State.

Once the program has been developed, the courses will be brokered on a national scale through ORAU to its 86-member institutions and marketed through the Southern Regional Education Campus Web site.

Leiter said only 11 of nearly 400 proposals submitted to LAAP were funded. Development of the program will begin this fall, and the program seeks to be self-supporting within three years, he said.

For additional information, Leiter can be reached at 865-974-3181 or e-mail rleiter@utk.edu. Rogers can be reached at 615-353-3571 or e-mail rogers_s@nsti.tec.tn.us