Finding and Supporting the Next Data Center Leaders
On March 23, 2022, we celebrated International Data Center Day. This day is dedicated to the education of youth and promoting the importance of future data center career opportunities. We at iMasons and 7×24 Exchange, premise that by working together, the mission-critical industry can connect with future generations and ensure a steady flow of skilled labor, an enhanced public image of data centers, and safeguard the ongoing prosperity of the data center industry.
iMasons has ongoing efforts undertaken to support the International Data Center Day objectives. They are a strong start. These objectives need to be grown by creating public “awareness” of what the industry does along with the development of academic programs to address the industry’s staffing needs and actively support the common goals of the industry.
As the generation that built the Data Center industry is rapidly graying out into a comfortable retirement, and with continued double-digit growth, the Data Center employers have been challenged to develop a recognized industry-wide educational program.
Many have asked, “Where do I go to get educated for a career in the Data Center industry?” A recent global study only found 19 Higher Education Institutions offering 25 degrees, certificates, and/or diplomas offered education in this sector. This is still far from addressing the rapidly growing list of needs of the industry.
There are also many excellent commercial training firms with offerings around the globe. While these tend to be focused on people already in the industry, versus preparing candidates to enter the industry, they are nevertheless vital to enhancing the industry’s knowledge and upskilling employees.
For its part, iMasons, through its Education and other Committees, is addressing many of these issues through multiple initiatives:
Curriculum Task Force
The Education Committee’s “Curriculum Task Force (CTF)” has developed and issued an RFP for the development of a University level Minor Degree that can lead to a future fully-accredited degree program. The CTF is currently in discussions with one University and actively pursuing others.
The Education Committee is also now in its second year of running a senior Capstone Project. This has grown from one University in the first year to now four Universities in its second year.
The Capstone program creates multi-disciplined teams at each University to develop a data center (Needs criteria, site selection, design, build schedule, budget, networking, server, and storage selection with performance metrics, etc.) for an imaginary company confronted with excessive data center growth requirements.
The Capstone program provides three industry mentors plus a mentor-lead university team working with the Professors at each University. The program is run over the two final semesters of the student’s senior year with a presentation to a panel of industry judges at the end of their final term.
iMasons is working with partners with an established and accredited Apprenticeship program to expedite a Digital Infrastructure Apprenticeship as a supplement to the existing Apprenticeship programs.
iMasons has raised nearly $1,000,000 in scholarship funds and has been averaging nearly 10 applications per month from which over 130 scholarships have already been awarded. These awards are focused on candidates entering the industry and recent entrants to the industry in need of improving their knowledge and skills.
We are committed to growing the Educational and Career opportunities for those entering the Digital Infrastructure industry and to do so in cooperation with fellow industry-leading organizations like 7×24 Exchange for International Data Center Day and every day.
We look forward to partnering with other industry leaders on creating, implementing, and scaling more educational and skills development programs. If you would like to learn more or get involved, please contact iMasons at imasons.org.