Tuesday, February 3, 2015

University of New Orleans GE Capital Software Engineering Apprenticeship Program Doubles in Size

SWEAP Program Aims to Expand, Offers 25 New Summer Positions


Nearly 30 University of New Orleans computer science students participated in the fledging class of the GE Capital Software Engineering Apprenticeship Program. Thanks to their succes, GE Capital plans to expand the program, offering 20 to 25 new summer positions and planning to double the program in size.Nearly 30 University of New Orleans computer science students participated in the fledgling class of the GE Capital Software Engineering Apprenticeship Program. Thanks to their success, GE Capital plans to expand the program,
offering 20 to 25 new summer positions and aiming to double the program in size.

Computer science students at the University of New Orleans are crowing about a great new opportunity. The world's largest credit providers have trained nearly 30 student apprentices at high wages over the last year - and the company is now opening up more opportunities to get into the company on the ground floor.

Fun Facts!

  • Undergraduate enrollment in computer science at UNO jumped 27 percent from fall 2013 to fall 2014.

  • The National Security Agency in 2014 named the University of New Orleans one of five "Centers of Excellence" in the U.S.

  • In 2014, the UNO Computer Science Department won nearly $1 million in grants from the National Science Foundation to help advance cybersecurity research.

Industry giant GE Capital partnered with the University of New Orleans in January 2014 to offer computer science students a unique opportunity to work alongside seasoned software engineers and gain valuable industry experience through a new Software Engineering Apprenticeship Program, known as SWEAP. Thirteen students were initially invited to work at GE Capital at wages competitive with those of an entry-level software developer. One year later, SWEAP has more than doubled in size, reaching a total of 28 apprentices. Due to this success GE Capital wants to double the size of SWEAP again, in half the time, and is opening up another 20-25 positions for this summer.

SWEAP aims to solve the increasingly common catch-22 that every entry-level programming job now expects prior work experience, industry leaders said. Apprentices work together in teams and build software systems designed to be deployed, used, and maintained. They use professional technologies that would otherwise be inaccessible.

GE Capital offers several different career tracks and encourages students to discover which discipline best suits their interests.  These tracks include options in business intelligence, user experience, user interface, software engineering, and security. Through these tracks, students are mentored by professional software engineers who teach them both technical and social skills.

“Software development is as much art form or craft as it is science, which makes it a great candidate for apprenticeship,” said Jeffrey Serpas, GE’s SWEAP leader. “Apprenticeship, although considered by some to be an old-world style of learning, has been very successful in this modern context.

“People with proven skills and leadership in software development are paired with novice developers over the course of the four-year program,” Serpas said. “We have found it to be an incredibly effective way to pass on the skills needed to develop quality software to this next generation of talent.”

The latest submission process saw GE Capital hire 11 new UNO computer science students selected from among 45 possible applicants. The applicants went through a rigorous interview process that demanded they demonstrate strong communication skills; succeed in a coding challenge; and engage in a technical discussion.

GE Capital is committed to the success of their UNO apprentices, company leaders and UNO students said.

“I was surprised by how excited everyone here at GE is about the SWEAP program,” said James Bates, a full-time SWEAP apprentice. “The team here at the technology center is really committed to the idea of making this program succeed, and in turn, making sure we succeed.”

Apprentices begin their GE experience with a weeklong “Boot Camp” that covers topics spanning from distributed version control, software development, application security and agile methodology to cloud automation.

Ted Holmberg, a full-time industry liaison at UNO, is dedicated to helping students network with the various available internship opportunities throughout the Greater New Orleans area.

“We are strongly committed to ensuring that our students have the best opportunity to succeed at the local, regional, and national levels.” said Computer Science Professor Mahdi Abdelguerfi, head of the UNO Department of Computer Science. “Partnering with GE Capital helps us fulfill on that pledge.”

So far, the joint commitment to success has resulted in a 100 percent conversion rate from the part-time apprenticeships into full-time positions, Abdelguerfi said.

Read More 

UNO Department of Computer Science
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New Orleans GE Capital branch and UNO announce technology apprenticeship program, The Times-Picayune
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