In an era where all the hot tech jobs seem to focus on application development and cloud computing, it can be hard to find fresh data center engineering talent. The Institute of Technology in Sligo, Ireland, is trying to rewrite that story with a new Bachelors Degree in Data Center Facilities Engineering, starting this fall.
According to the school, “The purpose of this new engineering degree programme is to provide the Data Centre industry with staff who are qualified to provide the proficient and in-depth skills necessary for the technical management and operation of data centre facilities. Expert operation and maintenance of these facilities is crucial in order to maintain 24/7 services with optimum energy efficiency.”
Online classes, but you still have to go to Belgium
While the school may be in Ireland, the degree is offered online, in English, with lab sessions in Haute École Louvain en Hainaut (HELHa) in Mons, Belgium. Students will have to show up there on specified days, which obviously tilts the program toward European students. Still, it provides a template that could be followed by schools around the world, creating cadres of new data center staff members without the need for intensive on-the-job training.
Because the course was reportedly developed after 18 months of consultations with Google, Facebook and Microsoft, it’s not entirely clear to what extent the course will focus on traditional enterprise data center practices or if it will concentrate on the needs of the web giants.
Creating a pool of entry-level workers?
But in an industry where technology graduates typically receive a more general education—perhaps bolstered with a short specialized course in data centers or other disciplines—the mere fact it exists also comes as a vote of confidence for careers in data center engineering. To be fair, there is a master's program in data center engineering at SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering in Dallas, but that requires students to already have their B.S. in engineering or a related field. The IT Sligo course can be expected to turn out younger, presumably less expensive, data center workers who are better suited for entry-level positions.
IT Sligo President Dr. Brendan McCormack told Irish Tech News, “We are proud to be helping the data centres to address a specific skill need which several of the world’s leading tech companies recognise and value.”
Denis Browne, Google’s EU regional data center lead, added, “Google’s data centers are some of the best in the world, and we look for the best talent to work with us. Thanks to IT Sligo and HELha, this online course will increase the skills of people already working in the sector and for those who wish to work in the industry going forward.”
In four years or so, we’ll have a better idea of how it’s all working out.