Statler College strengthens relationships with key stakeholders across the state during first Industry Day
To bolster partnerships with regional leaders in academia and industry, the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at West Virginia University hosted its first Industry Day on October 21.
Story by Brittany Furbee, Communications Specialist
Photos by Paige Nesbit, Director of Marketing
The event welcomed faculty and students from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, representatives from the offices of United States Senator’s Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin III and industry professionals who came together to collaborate and share ideas about technology and research advancements and how to prepare our students for the abundance of tech jobs that exist throughout the state and in the region.
“West Virginia has a strong and growing technology and information services sector,” said Jack Thompson, director of WVU Corporate Relations. “WVU is committed to providing a qualified workforce and cutting-edge research to support the industry.”
Attendees engaged in an open forum discussion with guest speakers Jennifer Piercy, Development Director for the Office of U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, and Collen Lewis, Military Legislative Assistant for the Office of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin III. Both speakers highlighted the importance of partnering with institutions like WVU to continue producing innovative research with an emphasis on technology and energy resource production.
In order to promote information access, research and technological advancement, the audience agreed broadband access throughout West Virginia was a pertinent issue that needed addressed. There is an immediate need for a reliable pipeline of talent for the abundance of technical jobs being formed in West Virginia, however connecting with youth and preparing them for these roles is reliant on advanced connectivity throughout the state.
With several initiatives on the horizon, attendees commended our government officials for their efforts to make broadband, and therefore K-12 outreach, more accessible, which is not only essential for the state’s economy but also for the future employment of WV students.
Engaging with grade-school students throughout the state is a priority for the Statler College. The College’s robust outreach program hosts students on campus for events like Girls in STEM Day and Engineering Challenge Camps and sends representatives to schools to conduct hands on demonstrations to educate students about opportunities in the engineering field.
“I love going into schools and inviting K-12 kids into my classroom so that I can show them that there are viable and lucrative career options right here in West Virginia,” said Tom Devine, teaching assistant professor in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. “What I want is to show people that Mountaineers can do anything, and it all starts here at the Statler College.”
Following the open discussion, five industry professionals from the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services, First Energy, NASA IV&V, and TMC Technologies of West Virginia were invited to the stage for a panel discussion on preparing students for success. The panel was organized by Dale Dzielski, program director of WVU’s Online Software Engineering Program, and moderated by Erienne Olesh, executive director of student and faculty innovation at WVU.
“In the Lane Department, student success is our top priority,” said Anurag Srivastava, chair of the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. “Our efforts in the department should be preparing students to be industry ready. This event was an important step to take inputs from industry and government officials.”
During this session, panelists were able to lay out specific skills and knowledge they would like to see students possess prior to graduation. This gave faculty members in attendance an opportunity to get direct feedback from employers on what their curriculum should include to ensure student preparedness.
“When I am working on my curriculum, I make it a point to always get the opinions of people in industry,” Devine said. “By incorporating their suggestions, we can make sure students are ready to hit the ground running when they enter the workforce.”
The panelists emphasized that soft skills cannot be overlooked, as they are often the most important skills students can have. This includes making sure that students can communicate effectively and accurately in both technical and laymen's terms, depending on the audience.
“As an industry partner, I realized that we all share similar thoughts on student preparedness and the same struggles within our respective organizations,” said Matthew Fancher, Unit Chief of Criminal Justice Information Services at the FBI and alumnus of the Statler College. “This event was great as it provided an opportunity as an organization to highlight things that are important to us going forward so that students can then be engaged and understand the value of what we do as an organization.”
“Industry Day allowed the University, its corporate partners and federal agencies to directly engage on new areas of interest, curriculum, current and future research topics and recruitment needs,” said Thompson. “We are grateful to provide an opportunity to engage with industry and identify their current needs and interests, as well as to provide updates on the College’s current research and partnership opportunities.”
Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit
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