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Cook Systems and U of M Partner to Grow Area's High-Tech Work Force
For release: Feb. 16, 2007
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A unique partnership between Cook Systems International Inc. and the University of Memphis will help to grow the area’s high-tech work force.

Cook Systems’ CollegeCareerCorps is a program that integrates students into professional technology teams in entry-level positions to work on real information technology projects. The students join a team that includes experienced information technology professionals to work on actual IT projects on a long-term basis. Students typically work 20 hours a week and continue with the same client partner for up to two years. More than 20 U of M students are currently working with CollegeCareerCorps.

Because partners contract directly with Cook Systems, projects don’t have to begin and end during a single semester like a traditional internship. These "super-internships" provide real services to partners and long-term employment as well as professional level experiences to participating students.

As part of the partnership, Cook Systems is contributing $100,000 to the University’s Systems Testing Excellence Program (STEP), an interdisciplinary research initiative at the University’s FedEx Institute of Technology, which builds upon an early CollegeCareerCorps project. Additionally, Cook Systems will be making annual gifts to the University proportional to the number of U of M students participating in CollegeCareerCorps initiatives. The expected 2007 contribution will be between $12,000 and $15,000. Future contributions are expected to grow rapidly as the program does.

STEP is an interdisciplinary research collaborative with faculty and graduate students from the MIS Department in the Fogelman College of Business and Economics, the Electrical Engineering Department in the Herff College of Engineering, and the Computer Science Department in the College of Arts and Sciences.  STEP focuses on advancing the knowledge and science of software testing and positions the University to become a nationally and internationally recognized thought leader in the science of systems testing.

The annual Cook Systems gifts will be used to fund student recruitment efforts in the areas of management information systems, computer engineering, and computer science under the STEP collaborative framework. Activities funded by the gifts will include scholarships, book awards, technology awards, recruitment materials, summer camps, field trips, CollegeCareerCorps recruitment assistance, and related activities.

The partnership with Cook Systems will provide valuable practical training and experience to students. Many students have already moved directly from CollegeCareerCorps positions to positions with Cook Systems or partner organizations.

"Our faculty’s research agenda will be enhanced greatly by Cook Systems’ support of the STEP Research Center," said U of M President Shirley Raines. "Our corporate partners will benefit from work completed at the highest levels of quality while building their work force for the future, and our students will benefit from the opportunity to apply their academic knowledge to practical applications with part-time employment and internships."

Corporate partners receive leading edge research services, consulting assistance, and the ability to partner with students and faculty to address critical business challenges. Services are delivered at globally competitive rates, and the student teams support real, operationally budgeted activities.

"Jointly, STEP and CollegeCareerCorps will increase both the base number of information systems professionals in the Memphis region and the number of meaningful internship opportunities available to students," said Ben Bryant, president of Cook Systems International and a member of the University’s Board of Visitors.

"This partnership helps move us forward in building a nationally recognized University-industry collaborative eco-system for excellence in systems testing research and best practices," said Dr. Jasbir Dhaliwal, professor and chairman of the Department of Management Information Systems.

Doug Hurley, chairman of the FedEx Institute of Technology and vice president for information technology at the U of M, said, "This program is a great example of the kinds of corporate and academic collaborations and partnerships for which the Institute is known."

More information is available online at www.collegecareercorps.com

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Last updated: 03/19/2008 16:30:11
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