State Partners with Robins Air Force Base To Produce Software Specialists
By Sheron Smith
In Macon State's most important economic development partnership to
date, the college and Robins Air Force Base are launching a state-sponsored
project to produce more software specialists for one of the nation's
key defense logistics centers.
Mike Hale, left, director of MSC's
Institute for Information Management, talks with Andy Adsit,
center, cheif of the engineering branch at the Warner Robins
Air Logistics Center, and Clay Mims, cheif of the resources
branch, software engineering, at WR-ALC. The college is partnering
with Robins on an ICAPP project.
by Sheron Smith
Under Georgia's Intellectual Capital Partnership Program, Macon
State will provide an intensive, six-month IT education program
for 15 engineers currently employed at Robins to help them in their
work with high-tech airborne systems and other software technology.
The Base has faced a shortage of software specialists and other
knowledge workers who are crucial to attracting new workload and
remaining competitive with other air logistics facilities in the
Robins Air Force Base powers the Central Georgia region's economy
as one of the state's largest employers. With some 26,000 military,
civilian and contract workers, the Base has an annual net payroll
of $901 million and an annual retiree payroll of more than $400
million. According to a conservative formula used by the Air Force,
Robins' economic impact on Georgia is $3.2 billion a year.
"Given the significance of the Base, we're excited about the
opportunity to help accelerate the training of some of their personnel,"
said Dr. Bill Elieson, chair of Macon State's IT division, which
crafted the curriculum. "Many Air Force employees are already
in our IT program, so this is another chance to share our resources
to support the mission at Robins."
Andrew H. Adsit, chief of the engineering branch at the Warner
Robins-Air Logistics Facility, called the partnership a win-win-win
situation for the state, the Base and the college.
"The state wins by retaining workload that may otherwise go
elsewhere," he said. "Macon State wins by adding educational
opportunities and Robins wins by having a flexible workforce."
ICAPP is a state-funded economic development incentive program
that allows Georgia colleges and universities to hire instructors,
renovate facilities and buy the technology necessary to customize
education programs for companies that rely on knowledge workers
to grow their business.
ICAPP's purpose is to increase the high-tech employee pool in order
to attract new companies and allow existing ones to thrive. Generally,
students chosen for ICAPP projects take classes full-time for six
months and are guaranteed jobs with the partner company upon successful
completion of the program. Students are usually eligible to receive
HOPE Grants for tuition and others financial aid.
The ICAPP project with Robins will work a bit differently. The
initial class of 15 students will be made up of degreed engineers
who already work at the base but have their academic training in
specialties outside the software arena. They will continue their
jobs while taking classes full-time. Tentative plans call for filling
future ICAPP classes with other Robins employees and using the program
to recruit new talent for the increasingly sophisticated defense
technologies that will be supported at the Base.