Students and Connected “Things”


As many industries become connected, the need for skilled workers grows. Today’s students are increasingly getting an education in data and connectivity, as schools around the globe are offering programs and classes for M2M, connected devices, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.

In the United Kingdom, school kids will learn just what is possible with M2M through a program called “Internet of School Things.” The project is headed by a consortium called DISTANCE, which includes a number of organizations.

Funding for the program is provided by the U.K.’s Technology Strategy Board. The consortium will work with at least eight schools to explore ways the Internet of Things can enhance learning, and students will discover ways to use data to further their education. Some of the first areas students will focus on include transportation, energy, weather, and health.

DISTANCE plans to create apps and data visualizations that can be used by schools during the program. With students focused on understanding the benefits of data and connected devices, the next generation may be uniquely prepared to take advantage of the Internet of Things.

Students yearning to work in the world of Big Data can now be credentialed in this area. IBM,, collaborated with Dublin City University,, to create a master’s degree program in computer science with Big Data, business analytics, and smarter cities. The goal is to prepare students with IT skills to work in the areas of urban analysis, consumer behavior, social networks, sentiment analysis, healthcare, as well as cyber and network security.

Students will have access to IBM case studies and data related to cities and organizations, and they will learn to use the data to impact business in industries such as healthcare, retail, finance, and transportation.

Katharine Frase, CTO of IBM’s Global Public Sector, says “Data scientists will be at the heart of turning ‘signals’ into ‘insight.’ We believe that a data scientist is an interdisciplinary role, one that requires knowledge of computer science, mathematics, as well as the business domain (finance, retail, healthcare) of interest. Today data scientists graduate with a single degree and then ‘learn the other parts on the job.’ We need to accelerate the supply of data scientists coming into the workplace.”

By filling the gaps in other programs, the degree aims to train students so they are ready to enter into the technology discussion in the workplace. To this end, in August 2013 IBM also added nine new academic collaborations with universities worldwide that focus on Big Data and analytics.

Apps are becoming the preferred way to connect with many systems, and app developers are in high demand. A new professional development certificate program in mobile app development at the Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies,, helps students learn the ropes of creating apps. The course is project-based and can be completed in as little as six months. Designed for coders and entrepreneurs, the Mobile App Developer certificate provides experience in prototyping, coding, and delivery into the marketplace.

According to Adam Kashuba, director of professional development and post-baccalaureate programs at Northwestern University’s School of Continuing Studies, in the last 12-18 months the tech start-up community has blossomed in the Chicago area. 

“While we don’t have the presence in the tech science of the coasts, the growth of mobile technology and its concentration in downtown Chicago makes this a great time to offer a formalized training program to those who have learned mobile app development organically,” Kashuba says. “We hope we can help app-makers solidify their knowledge and to create a new class of programmers and innovators that can feed back into Chicago‘s tech community.”

Chicago is indeed a hotbed for tech start-ups, many of which will be on display at the Connected World Conference, which is co-located with the Chicago Auto Show. During the event, universities will have the chance to put their programs on display in a competition to present the most compelling case developing ideas associated with the Internet of Things.

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