College Creates ‘Green’
Data Center Program BY TOM PENSABENE
BASELINE JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2010
administrators reinforced one point we firmly believe: IT has
become an enabling profession.
Consulting services were provided by MSI Systems
Integrators, a partner on our DOL grant. The company helped
us realize the importance of “going green” to decrease BTUs,
By doing that—and working with companies that lead
industry transformations with technology—we’ve been able to
rethink and redesign our IT curriculum to arm students with
the tools they’ll need to succeed in their careers. 3
THIS QUARTER, METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY COLLEGE
(MCC) in Omaha, Neb., will become the first two-year
academic institution in the United States to offer an undergraduate degree in the design and management of energy-efficient data centers. The program will serve the approximately 1,000 students enrolled in our IT courses, as well as
businesses that need to train current workers and students
from around the world who are pursuing a virtual education.
This two-year program was developed in response to a
dramatic increase in demand for specialists who can help
companies reduce the costs associated with running an energy-intensive data center. Until now, there hasn’t been a comprehensive, real-world learning environment in which
students can get a cohesive skill set that includes
sustainability, business analytics and IT training
that specifically targets the data center.
Our two-decades-long partnership with
IBM helped us reach what we believe is a
benchmark in education. As we take the leap
into this new world of skills-based education,
we aim to be a model for other institutions
that want to prepare students for the sweeping technological changes now under way
around the world.
Several entrepreneurial faculty members
who strive to stay current and meet emerging
industry needs have been preparing students
for the technology of the future. For example, since the
dot-com bubble burst, these individuals have made it a priority for our students to learn all aspects of the Web: scripting
and design, the operations of the backend databases and the
programming that connects them, networking, security and,
most importantly, the business of business.
It all started in April 2008, when MCC was awarded a community-based job training grant from the U.S.
Department of Labor (DOL) to increase the quality of the IT
workforce and to make I T education more work-relevant. We
were then approached by several local chambers of commerce
and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development to
develop a degree in data center management.
In response, MCC President Randy Schmailzl challenged
us to have a data center management degree in place within six
months. Because the Omaha area is home to data centers for
Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Microsoft, First Data and ConAgra,
among others, we were able to tour these local data centers and
ask a lot of questions. Our interviews with these data center
Tom Pensabene, dean of information technology and e-learning at
Metropolitan Community College, is completing a dissertation in
instructional design for online learning. He has worked at every
level of public and private education.
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