Augusta Technical College will become the first two-year college in the nation to partner academically with one of the world’s most prestigious technology giants.
Augusta Tech President Dr. Jermaine Whirl is expected to reveal the school’s new Fortune 500 partner Thursday morning during his State of the College address.
“We got a cold call from New York City directly,” he said. “They said, ‘We want to plant our flag at Augusta Tech.’ It is a huge deal.”
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Augusta Tech and company representatives signed a memorandum of understanding last week, a document that typically precedes a formal legal partnership.
While the partner’s identity has not yet been publicly disclosed, Barron’s and Fortune magazines have ranked the tech-industry titan as one of the most admired and most respected companies in the world.
Whirl credited Tech’s growing cybersecurity program for raising the school’s profile high enough to register on the radar of some of the world’s biggest corporations. Earlier this year, Newsweek magazine cited Augusta Tech among just three two-year colleges in the United States with superior cybersecurity programs.
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The new partner “never worked with a two-year college. That was kind of surprising,” he said. “They’ve got plenty of university partners from Duke to Carnegie-Mellon. They partner with universities all the time, specifically in research, but they’ve never worked with a two-year college.”
Whirl expects the new partner to extend the same opportunities to other two-year schools, “but to be selected as the first in the country is a big ordeal. We also have had phone calls from T-Mobile, calls from Target. We have some major companies calling us wanting to partner and do some collaboration.”
Augusta Tech’s new partner will provide training, some of which can result in professional accreditation. Students and faculty also will have access to the company’s platform of products, including a supercomputer. Companies that operate supercomputers include IBM, HP, Dell, Cray and Fujitsu.
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Tech’s new partner is “very interested in two-year college students and how it can support education as a whole,” Whirl said. “There’s really, I would say, not a lot of reciprocity they’re asking from us in return, besides getting this information, product and educational opportunity to students in the community.”
Whirl’s State of the College address is scheduled to be delivered at 11 a.m. Thursday in the Jack B. Patrick Information Technology Center Auditorium, on the school’s main campus off Lumpkin Road.