The State Farm grant stems from JSU’s long-standing partnership with the insurance company. For more than a decade, JSU’s Computer Science Department has supplied State Farm with qualified recruits, and the insurance company has supported the department with numerous grants.
This year’s grant will be used to set up a mobile application development lab equipped with Apple equipment.
“We will also be able to hire students as researchers in that lab,” said Dr. Jacqueline Jackson, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science. “We’re tying our research to the university’s iPad initiative.”
Through a Mississippi e-Center Foundation program called the iPad Technology Advantage Scholarship Initiative, JSU freshmen this year received iPads to assist in their learning. The program integrates the device into the curriculum and is tracking students’ learning through an intensive two-year study.
State Farm’s support of JSU is part of the company’s effort to help lure more students into high-tech careers. Despite the growing demand for computer programmers and software engineers, the number of people graduating with computer science or computer engineering degrees has declined nearly 40 percent over the past decade. And while the number of students enrolling in programs is starting to pick up, the need for programmers keeps outpacing the supply. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for computer programmers and software engineers are projected to increase by 21 percent through 2018, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.