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U of L Announces Partnership With IBM To Boost Workforce Skills

University of Louisville seniors Malik Shalash and Jake Steele have studied artificial intelligence as undergraduates. But they haven't had access to a quantum computer on campus.

He said a lot of the cornerstones of modern computer science — advanced topics such as blockchain and artificial intelligence — are hard to study without the right resources.

"For instance, quantum computing, that's hard without a quantum computer or something that is powerful enough that you can really work with," Shalash said. "So you need a partnership like this with IBM to really allow students to be able to kind of play around and experiment."

That's something U of L students and faculty could potentially have in the future, thanks to a new IBM Skills Academy that will launch at the university next fall.

Neeli Bendapudi, who became president of the University a year ago, announced the partnership Wednesday morning. She said its value would surpass the up to $5 million in software, technology and capital IBM had committed.

"When you have two great institutions [who] have an opportunity to work together, who can say where the potential lies?" she said.

A U of L spokesperson said how much the university would invest is yet to be determined.

"We might actually see if we at the University of Louisville can actually help educate our workforce and the public sector as well," Bendapudi said. "You know, everybody needs this."

Naguib Attia, who leads IBM’s university partnerships, said workers in more than 120 million jobs in the world’s 10 largest economies will need new or improved technology skills in the next three years.

He said IBM plans to open four more Skills Academies at American universities.

Mayor Greg Fischer, who was on hand for the announcement, said city officials are working to grow the number of jobs in the city, and that most jobs above median wage have a technology component.

"If we're not integrating technology into everything we do, from grade school, to high school to college to graduate degrees, we are really missing the boat," he said.

Louisville tends to have more technology job openings than it does qualified candidates. A recent Business First report put the number of unfilled tech jobs at about 2,000 at any time.

Bendapudi said it is her dream to create a general course on advanced technologies that everyone, from students to faculty would take.

“This is what we need, we need this kind of support, so that we can truly transform and be prepared for the workforce of the future," she said.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.

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