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DMACC offering new software development training program

California congressman helped connect DMACC and Google


Connections between Des Moines Area Community College, Google and a California congressman have helped the two-year college make a new software development training program available to students.

Rep. Ro Khanna, who represents California’s 17th congressional district including Silicon Valley, was introduced to DMACC when he helped launch the community college’s partnership with Accenture in Jefferson.

In 2019, Corteva Agriscience provided funding for scholarships to 25 students in rural areas entering DMACC’s Computer Languages program with Accenture offering an additional four months of software development training. Now called the Rural Forge Scholarship, the DMACC Foundation offers the award each year and Accenture has accepted DMACC students as interns. Joel Lundstrom, provost of the DMACC Carroll campus, said in an email that Accenture will not take on new interns after this summer, but he hopes to continue the partnership in another way.

The event held last week at DMACC Urban Campus recognized DMACC as one of the first community colleges to partner with the TechWise program offered by TalentSprint and supported by Google. More than 40 DMACC students are enrolled across the program’s first two cohorts.

Khanna said when Google reached out about the TechWise program he recommended DMACC because of its success with the Accenture partnership and President Rob Denson’s advocacy for “bringing technology opportunities into rural Iowa and into the heartland.”

Although he represents California in Congress, Khanna said he advocates for technology education and jobs across the country because the coasts can’t provide all the people the U.S. needs to compete globally.

“We can’t have all the technology credentialing and training just happening on the coasts when we’ve got so much talent in the heartland,” he said.

Denson said Khanna has been an “amazing connector” and the TechWise program is an “unheard of” program to offer to students.

“As far as DMACC is concerned, it’s not about us, it’s about helping our students. … We operate like a business and our faculty and staff are passionate about actually getting something accomplished. We don’t like sitting in meetings, we like closing the deal and helping students,” Denson said.

As a partner institution, DMACC students are eligible for the TechWise program, which offers free tuition and a $5,000 scholarship to help students take care of basic expenses while in the program. Students complete 10-12 hours of work per week in addition to their DMACC coursework and receive a credential at the end of the 18-month program.

TalentSprint provides teaching faculty and mentors and each student has a mentor from Google who helps them identify career opportunities with technology.

The program focuses on software development, but Khanna said that and other technology skills are needed in every industry.

“The important thing is that these technology jobs could be in manufacturing, they could be in AI, they could be in agriculture, they could be retail. They’re not just jobs working for tech companies,” he said.

Silas Hanneman, a DMACC pathway navigator, helps find students who may be a good fit for the TechWise program. He said the program can be a supplement for students getting a related degree and help those who are interested in technology but aren’t sure what role they want.

“A lot of our students are looking for, ‘Hey I took this one class. Where is this going? I kind of like this but I’m not sure.’ TechWise is really good for that as well because it’s outside of DMACC. Yes, it’s educational, but it’s real world,” Hanneman said. “It’s working with people outside the college who are also students, but they’re going to be from a variety of backgrounds.”

Jackson Trainer
Jackson Trainer

Jackson Trainer works for UnityPoint Health and is enrolled in DMACC’s computer information systems program. Since participating in the TechWise program he is looking to stay in health care but move into software engineering.

“I can’t imagine a career path without having done this,” Trainer said at the event. “I had a very set trajectory for the remainder of my career, I thought, and this has opened up new possibilities.”

Santanu Paul, CEO of TalentSprint, said what sets the TechWise program apart from many others offering training and mentorship is that it approaches participants as professionals and helps them learn through discovery.

Khanna said community colleges being willing to partner with employers will be necessary as the U.S. moves toward a technology-based economy and workforce. He said at the event that DMACC is a “model for what every community college can be in our nation.”

The growing number of programs offering accelerated training and credentials in high-demand fields are early signs of what the American workforce will need more of in the future, he said.

“It’s going to mean a lot more opportunities for the 60% of Americans who don’t have a four year degree because a lot of these jobs don’t require a four year degree, they require specific credentialing in a specific field,” he said.


Sarah Bogaards

Sarah Bogaards is a staff writer at Business Record. She covers innovation & technology, HR & education.

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