IBM High School Will Churn Out IT Pros

Earlier this week, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the  City University of New York and IBM are creating a computer science-focused school in the city that spans from grade 9 to 14 (students leave with an associate’s degree). The high school, which will be the first to go through grade 14, has a valuable guarantee for students: graduates will be first in line for jobs at IBM. 

But graduating students will be equipped to do far more than work at Big Blue, says Stanley Litow, IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs. “The idea is to create a new [educational] model for science, technology, engineering, and math–areas where companies are aggressively hiring. If you look at hiring requirements, you won’t see a huge amount of difference in a lot of entry-level IT jobs.” So students will, theoretically, have the skills to work any entry-level IT position.

Students will be chosen to attend using the standard New York City lottery system–one third of selected students will be below grade level, one third will be at grade level, and one third will be above.

IBM will be directly involved in building the school’s curriculum. Litow imagines that the company will bring employees into the classroom and offer mentorships for students and teachers, among other things. “The assumption is that we bring expertise to the table,” he says.

Ultimately, IBM wants to use the materials developed at its New York City school in other locations–even in already-existing high schools and community colleges. “We would start with New York City, but will look towards developing materials in way that other school systems around the country could have access,” Litow explains. Big Blue High: coming soon to a town near you.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.AS