IBM Academic Initiative

Building skills for a Smarter Planet

Spotlight on Cégep de Thetford faculty

Leaders of mainframe education in French-speaking Canada

Cegep faculty

Computer science faculty at Cégep de Thetford
Thetford Mines, Québec

Row 1: Louis-Charles Dumais, François La Haye, Pier-Olivier Fréchette, Michel Pelletier
Row 2: Marco Guay, Steve Daigle, Luc Forcier, Roger Robichaud

Est-ce que votre mainframe parle français?

The people in Québec, Canada speak French. Naturally, the Québec companies that run their businesses on mainframe computers need an IT staff that speaks French and has enterprise computing skills. This is not always an easy combination to find. Luckily, Cégep de Thetford, a small school in Québec, is addressing this large need.

Cégep de Thetford was formally founded in 1969 and has continuously distinguished itself by the success of its students. Although the student body numbers less than 1000, the college has maintained a program in mainframe technology since the mid-1970s and has featured IBM enterprise systems for the past four years. They are now expanding their enterprise computing program and are working directly with their mainframe community of local businesses to develop and define curriculum content.

Together, they have decided the content and sequence of courses and the training techniques to use. This approach ensures that graduating students will be equipped with skills that are important and meet the requirements from hiring businesses and corporations in their province. The program will cover both general and technically specific topics such as an introduction to z/OS, JCL, COBOL, VSAM, CICS and dump analysis.

The college has assigned ten people to help support the program, including a team of five professors, three academic advisors, one communication advisor and two directors. As active members of the IBM Academic Initiative, the Cégep de Thetford faculty have taken advantage of the program's numerous offerings and have tailored them to their language and educational needs. They've increased their own skills by attending the System z Summer Faculty Seminar for several years, and recently brought students with them on a field trip from Canada to IBM Poughkeepsie, NY (where IBM mainframes are manufactured) to tour the assembly line and the Green Data Center.

Results

It's a win-win for the students and the local industry. Graduates from the Cégep de Thetford program will have good job prospects in their local market. And these businesses and corporations who hire them know that they will have the appropriate skills to quickly be productive. They get more autonomous entry-level programmers; senior programmers are freed from training the new hires and instead can concentrate on their advanced tasks.

Steve Daigle, one of the instructors in the program, spoke for his team when he told us, "We really appreciate the collaboration we've had with our industry partners in developing our courseware. We believe this strong relationship will ensure our students have what it takes to enter the job market."

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