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UW, Cardiff University, Community Colleges to Pilot Software Development Program

March 10, 2021

About 20 students from the University of Wyoming and several of the state’s community colleges will gain hands-on training in software development starting later this month.

The two-week intensive experience will be used to pilot an innovative program in software development through a partnership involving Cardiff University in Wales, United Kingdom; UW; Wyoming community colleges; and industry partners in the state. The online program will help UW and the community colleges accomplish their objective of preparing Wyoming residents to participate in the 21st century workforce and diversify the state’s economy.

The initial pilot cohort of students will be selected by faculty members at UW and Wyoming community colleges. Starting March 27, they’ll work on a short software development project with industry partner Trihydro Corp., an environmental engineering consulting firm based in Laramie.

“Trihydro is excited to partner with the University of Wyoming to develop a software engineering program that provides students with a ‘real-world’ experience and prepares them to be part of the future workforce,” says Kristie Cowdin, leader of the company’s corporate information systems business unit.

UW has entered a memorandum of understanding with Cardiff University to cultivate academic and cultural interchange between the two institutions. This agreement will make available to Wyoming students an applied software development degree, based on a curriculum offered by Cardiff’s School of Computer Science and Informatics, possibly as early as fall 2021.

Cardiff’s program was established in partnership with Welsh government and industry leaders, with the aim of giving students exposure to industry working practices through a system of project-based learning -- and providing opportunities to engage with experienced professionals from industry. It was created in response to concerns from industry that software engineering graduates were lacking in a number of essential skills to make them ready for the workplace once they leave universities.

“We’re grateful for this collaboration with Cardiff University and excited about helping bring it to the people of Wyoming,” UW President Ed Seidel says. “This partnership with external partners such as Cardiff, Wyoming community colleges and industry is an example of the type of program that can make a real difference in workforce and economic development in the state.”

The initial pilot cohort of Wyoming students participating in the “proof of concept” project will help finalize a curriculum for the software development program. UW and the state’s community colleges are working with Cardiff and industry partners toward initially offering a two-year degree in software development that will provide a pathway to a bachelor’s degree. Students pursuing the degrees will participate in a series of online modules, studying within an environment that mimics the workplace in the software development industry.

“We have found this model of delivering our software engineering courses to be extremely successful,” says Professor Stuart Allen, head of the School of Computer Science and Informatics at Cardiff University. “Employers value the ‘work ready’ graduates from our programs, as they can step straight into professional development teams. The students also benefit from seeing how their knowledge and skills are applied in the business environment while still studying for their degree.”

The initial pilot student cohort is scheduled to present the results of its efforts at the conclusion of the two-week intensive program. To prepare to launch the full degree program this fall, additional industry partners will be sought to participate in the development and rollout of the program.

“I’m very excited for this collaborative program. Working together, I feel the community colleges and UW can help transform the state’s economy, create new jobs and help revitalize all parts of the state,” says Brad Tyndall, president of Central Wyoming College.

The software development training program is one of the first projects of the Wyoming Innovation Network, a new initiative announced earlier this year by Gov. Mark Gordon in which UW and the state’s community colleges are collaborating to support and train entrepreneurs and new business startups -- part of an overall effort to support and enhance the state’s economy and workforce.

UW’s agreement with Cardiff University sets the stage for additional collaborative efforts in areas such as development of joint research projects; academic programs; and student and staff exchange programs.

“We are delighted to be able to share our successful National Software Academy model with Wyoming, and we look forward to strengthening our relationship with further collaborative initiatives in the future, to the benefit of Wales, the UK and the state of Wyoming,” says Professor Rudolf Allemann, pro vice chancellor of international and student recruitment, and head of the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering at Cardiff University.

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