Computer students on cloud nine after graduation

They’ve been in the same class for 18 months, but these students only met for the first time yesterday — at the graduation ceremony to mark completion of the country’s first dedicated degrees in cloud computing.

The courses were delivered online by Cork Institute of Technology as a landmark in higher education, providing a pool of workers for one of the fastest-growing technology industries.

Some of the 61 students on the unique master’s degree logged on for lectures from Russia, the Netherlands, Spain, France, and Britain, but they are completing their theses with a view to graduating in the autumn.

The group due to complete the same course next year include four in India, two in the US, two in Egypt, and one in Saudi Arabia.

Already, dozens of jobs are lined up for the first crop of graduates on these and two other cloud computing degrees who were conferred yesterday. The employers include local, national, and multinational firms, with one former architect now developing mobile phone applications for farmers.

The courses include 18-month part-time primary and master’s science degrees in cloud computing which were taught entirely online. Two full-time postgraduate programmes in cloud and mobile software development were offered through the Government-funded programme to reskill people coming from jobs affected by the downturn in construction and other recession-hit sectors.

One student who did not travel far from campus, but interacted with fellow students as far afield as London and Russia, was 31-year-old Emma Callanan. The only reason she has been at the campus regularly is that she works with the college IT support team.

“We just logged on every Monday and Tuesday night, the lecturer taught us there and could interact with our computers if we were doing coding,” she said.

“We could also swap notes or discuss problems with each other using the software, but we’d only have ever met for some of the exams that were held in the college.”

CIT head of online delivery, Tim Horgan, said there was an unending range of applications where cloud computing graduates can apply their skills.

“It’s a change in the way we interact with computers using a mix of computer programs and devices, meaning information can be accessed anywhere in the world remotely, through smartphones, laptops, and tablet computers.

“The ICT skills programme brought in people who were solicitors, town planners, civil engineers, among others.”

There are also close ties with local employers like VMWare and global data storage giant EMC, which have their Irish operations nearby. EMC’s managing director in Ireland, Bob Savage, also chairs CIT’s governing body.

“Cloud is now transforming global IT, offering the benefits of efficiency, control, choice and agility. Next-generation applications are being built on cloud architecture, so we will need the IT professionals to service the growing demand,” he said.

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