Guest column by Karen Cianci, Ph.D., dean of the School of Natural Sciences, and Simon Sultana, Ph.D., software engineering program director
What’s going on in downtown Fresno? And what is FPU’s involvement? Bitwise Industries, the Valley tech hub, has just purchased several additional buildings in downtown, bringing their total space to just under 300,000 square feet. Over 100 technology firms are located in Bitwise South Stadium, and space to recruit more has just doubled. FPU has launched the only baccalaureate degrees at Bitwise South Stadium. Computer Information Systems (CIS) launched January 2017 as an 18-month degree completion bachelor of science, recruiting 13 students in just under two months. In addition, the traditional undergraduate program with both a B.A. and B.S. in software engineering (SE) is offering its first courses at Bitwise.
Why are FPU’s CIS and SE at Bitwise? It is a known fact that education occurs best by immersion. To provide the best possible education, we must surround our students in their classes with technological leaders and entrepreneurial startups. This connects the ivory tower’s theory with practice. Active experiential learning is the focus of all classroom work. Both programs culminate in major projects, some benefiting industries and some benefiting nonprofits.
Many believe it is critical for the economic future of our country that students gain skills that allow them to innovate, think computationally and solve problems in the discipline of their choice. Locally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that demand for careers related to computer technology is expected to grow in Fresno County by as much as 40 percent over the next decade. It does not matter what field students work in or study, virtually all disciplines A to Z have become highly dependent on computing. So FPU’s biggest opportunity for all students is to couple a minor in SE with any major. Everyone can benefit from taking a technology class or expanding into a minor or a full degree. Join the revolution!