UNE's latest innovation: Academy of Digital Sciences

UNE Academy of Digital Sciences

December 05, 2016

The University of New England is proud to announce the launch of the UNE Academy of Digital Sciences, Maine’s first accelerated professional certificate series covering a full-spectrum of digital skills that lead from curiosity to career in the winter 2017.

Developed in collaboration with prominent Maine businesses, including IDEXX, Unum, MaineHealth and L.L. Bean, the UNE Academy allows the University to serve as a bridge between Maine’s professional workforce and the explicitly stated needs of area employers.

Based on UNE’s participation in The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Breakthrough Models Incubator and insights from the Department of Labor’s national competency models, the UNE Academy’s first programs will help current and aspiring professionals start and advance their computing and digital careers in the four key areas business leaders say they need most: development and programming, interaction and interface, analysis and data, and management and strategy. The UNE Academy will also offer an introductory digital essentials program, allowing newcomers to assess and explore their levels of interest.

The UNE Academy will provide self-paced, 8-week programs throughout the year, with a curriculum devised to support the success of a wide range of learners, including novices and career-changers looking for fresh challenges, and those with IT experience who need a quick refresher on collaboration and communication skills and the most up-to-date digital competencies.

UNE Academy learners will take curated online instruction, receive personal mentoring and support from accomplished area professionals, and attend periodic live events on UNE’s Portland Campus. Professional mentors will guide learners through content instruction and workplace-ready real-world projects.

This innovative blended model will allow learners to identify passions, deepen their knowledge, and hone their talents. Learners will receive a certificate of completion and a showcase opportunity to meet with leading Maine employers who helped develop programs.

“Maine businesses, nonprofits, and agencies are thriving in the knowledge economy, and their demand for solutions-oriented and digital-savvy talent is growing,” said Jay Collier, founder and director of the Academy. "This Academy will help Maine people of all ages master the soft and hard skills to enter this profession and move up in their careers.”

“I am very excited to support learners in meaningful application of their education through real-world, project-based learning,” said Program Manager Mike Preble, software development professional and founder of The Maine Game. “This is something I’m passionate about and I hope the Academy will help people discover their own passions as well.”

Jim Smith, the chief information officer for the State of Maine’s Office of Information Technology, demonstrated the enthusiasm that the Academy program has generated in Maine’s business community when he said, "We want to hire people who push us to the edge with new ideas and well calculated approaches to business process improvements. In Maine we know we have this talent just waiting for programs like the UNE Academy of Digital Sciences to help them reach their fullest potential—to be career-ready."

With a firm foundation of employer participation and engagement, the UNE Academy is designed to evolve rapidly, reflecting the ever-changing needs of the digital technology field. Future UNE Academy programs will expand this innovative launch to serve a wide range of learners throughout New England and beyond.

Insights from Participating Employers

Cash Star, Inc.

“Cash Star culture is built around empowerment and trusting the judgment of engineers. We work in a fast changing environment and this is what keeps us moving fast and allows us to build great products.”

— John Sterling, Director, Software Engineering

Fluid Imaging Technologies, Inc.

“Our team is endeavoring to attract a cadre of software and IT professionals to ensure we retain our leadership position and ensure the long-term viability of Fluid Imaging Technologies.”

— Kent Peterson, President and Chief Executive Officer

IDEXX Laboratories

 “We’re looking for people who are curious, who are problem solvers, and who are comfortable with creating and being a part of change.”

— Ken Grady, Chief Information Officer

L.L. Bean, Inc.

"L.L. Bean seeks intellectually curious and analytical technical talent at all levels and in multiple functions – people who are passionate about innovation and dedicated to shaping the future of success for the L.L.Bean brand.”

 — Sarah Cox, Vice President, Human Resources

MaineHealth Information Services

“We need people who have a fundamental knowledge in digital sciences and a passion for solving problems.”

— Jackie Cawley, DO, Interim SVP and Chief Information Officer

State of Maine

“We look to hire and retain talented employees and interns who possess critical thinking skills, a burning desire to solve problems, and who will be energized working in teams on meaningful projects. In Maine we know we have this talent just waiting for programs like the UNE Academy of Digital Sciences to help them reach their fullest potential – to be career ready.”

— Jim Smith, Chief Information Officer, Office of Information Technology

Tyler Technologies

“We are always looking for innovative people who think technically and strategically. In return, we provide an environment that challenges them and enables them to grow their skills.”

— Angela Gaudreau, Vice President, Munis Development

Unum Group

“We want ‘owners’: people who will understand the problem and will drive the solution as if it is their own.”

— Chris Jerome, Executive Vice President, Global Services

WEX, Inc.

“WEX is a growth company and Maine is home. Our partnership with UNE is critical to building the pipeline of top IT talent that WEX needs to fulfill the company’s vision of a successful future.”

 — Steve Crowley, Senior Vice President, Shared Services and Chief Information Officer

To learn more, visit  http://www.une.edu/academy 

Read the article from the Portland Press Herald.

Listen to Jay Collier talk about the Academy an episode of "Maine Calling." (37:40 into the episode) 

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