wave graphic

Isothermal Community College Data Center Institute will Boost Opportunities

Spindale, NC - Some Isothermal Community College students and graduates hoping to take advantage a fledgling job market created by the so-called "data-center corridor" will be able to attend the first Data Center Institute in May at ICC.

The Data Center Institute, which is set to begin May 21, is a 12-day course spread equally over three weeks. Each session of the course will last for eight hours.

"It's going to be three weeks of intensive study," said ICC Electronics Engineering Technology Instructor Chester Peeler. "It's going to be very fast paced."

The Data Center Institute, which has been formed as part of a unique partnership with the Facebook Data Center in Forest City, will be limited to 12 students for its inaugural course.

"This is not for someone straight out of high school," said Steve Hollifield, ICC electronics/computer engineering technology instructor. "This is a finishing tool - take a programmer out of business sciences or a network administration graduate out of business sciences; or take an electronics computer engineering graduate and give them some specialized data-center training before they go into the job market seeing a data-center job."

In addition to the Facebook Data Center in Rutherford County, the region also features a data centers built by the state of North Carolina, Apple, Walt Disney and AT&T, creating the so-called "data-center corridor."

"(The Data Center Institute) isn't going to guarantee anyone a job anywhere, but I think it can certainly give someone a foot in the door and get them noticed," said ICC Director of Marketing and Community Relations Mike Gavin. "It was a no-brainer. It's great to have a partner like Facebook to open the door."

Facebook recently donated a rack of servers to ICC that will be used for the Data Center Institute as well as related coursework that is part of the school's curriculum.

"Facebook is privileged to be part of North Carolina's 'data center corridor' and to be able to work with the state's renowned community college system. Education and connectivity are key parts of Facebook's mission," said Facebook Data Center Manager George Henry. "The program at Isothermal Community College will help talented individuals from our region connect with data-related jobs. While our role is relatively modest, the new economy offers many opportunities."

The servers are expected to be up and operational by mid-semester.

"We'll us (them) in the Data Center Institute; we'll be able to us it in the computer engineering technology curriculum and our electronics engineering curriculum," Hollifield said. "Students will be able to see, experience and touch that hardware that otherwise they would be unable to lay their hands on.

"They will get to study the basic curriculum of engineering and programming and electronics that go along with learning how to work in that field as well as something as specific as a data-center application for that theory."

So far, the Institute has received quite a bit of interest from students, Peeler said.

But students must also meet certain criteria beyond their realms of study to be considered for the Institute.

In addition to the computer hardware and software avenues of study, ICC is also looking at including other areas involving data centers such as facilities management.

The Data Center Institute has come together quickly and several instructors are still involved in finalizing its curricula.

"As far as the college is concerned, this is an example of a really good team effort between the areas of business sciences and applied sciences and technologies," Gavin said. "This is a great model of how a community college should be and can be responsive to a needs of an industry and a community."