Bendapudi and IBM executive 4-17-19

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi, right, and IBM Corp. vice president Naguib Attia announced a partnership between the company and the university on April 17, 2019.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – IBM Corp. and the University of Louisville will establish a Center for Digital Transformation with the goal of training students in all academic disciplines in artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, cybersecurity and other tech skills.

The center, which will house an IBM Skills Academy, will start this fall with renovations in U of L’s Miller Information Technology Center building on the Belknap campus.

IBM, the multinational information technology company based in Armonk, New York, hasn’t committed a cash donation to the university, but it will provide “software and cloud technology” with an estimated value of $5 million for U of L students and faculty to use.

IBM will also send its employees to the university to train faculty in eight areas:

-          artificial intelligence

-          blockchain technology

-          cybersecurity

-          cloud technology

-          data science

-          internet of things

-          design thinking

-          quantum computing

U of L faculty will then help students and other faculty members earn IBM digital credentials or college credit.

Naguib Attia, IBM’s vice president of global university programs, said the U of L deal is the first of four university partnerships that the company wants to establish in the United States.

U of L President Neeli Bendapudi said the idea to boost technological skills in middle America as a counterweight to the west coast and northeastern part of the country.

“Almost 40 percent of our students are on (low-income) Pell Grants, so if we don’t bridge this digital divide – the job of the future, they won’t be prepared for,” Bendapudi said. “… This is for all of our students – ‘digital humanities’ – it’s not just business and engineering.”

Bendapudi said she hopes the partnership will lead to a general education class where students from any discipline would learn “a little bit” about the eight areas in which IBM will provide curriculum and expertise.

“And then we hope it will pique their interest, and some of them will go on” to learn more, Bendapudi said.

Like many universities, U of L recently began offering a graduate business analytics degree to train data scientists. Bendapudi said the IBM partnership will complement that program, but the Center for Digital Transformation will be a “conduit” for digital skills across the university, from physics and astronomy to humanities.  

“This is a way to bring everybody around the university who has interest in these areas together,” she said.

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2019 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

Digital Reporter

Chris Otts reports for WDRB.com about business and economic topics, higher education and local / state government. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after seven years with The Courier-Journal. Got a tip? Chris is at 502-585-0822 and cotts@wdrb.com.