11:02 AM

Momentum - "A natural fit"

The deep partnership between IBM and Mohawk is growing into access-to-education programs and pandemic response

Mohawk College and IBM continue to expand a partnership that includes technology education for young Indigenous learners, advanced microcredentials for college faculty and students, and help with pandemic response.

The technology company recognized Mohawk as a partner in its Premier Academic Initiative in 2018, formalizing a longstanding relationship that has only grown since.

This spring, when the college was dealing with a flood of questions about how the pandemic would affect programs, financial assistance and modes of learning, Mohawk called on IBM Watson Assistant to provide 24/7 online support.

“IBM is a crucial partner for Mohawk College,” said Alison Horton, Vice President Academic. “That is realized in curriculum and training, applied research projects, work placements for students, and most recently in the collaboration with IBM Watson Assistant, a virtual agent that responds to student questions and concerns in real-time.”

Another new layer of the Mohawk-IBM partnership is P-TECH (Pathways in Technology, Early College High School). The initiative brings together the Six Nations Polytechnic (SNP) STEAM Academy, IBM and Mohawk to encourage Indigenous high school students to pursue higher education and a technology career.

In four to six years, successful students graduate high school, earn a tuition-free twoyear college diploma in software engineering technology, and experience mentoring, workplace visits, paid summer internships, and a guaranteed job interview at IBM.

The initiative “strengthens proven pathways for student success,” said Rebecca Jamieson, President and CEO of SNP. “We all share this land and this alliance models the cooperation that is critical to our future sustainability."

Mohawk is the first P-TECH partner in Ontario, joining four in Canada and 220 globally. The local initiative is also the first with an Indigenous focus, says Drew Davidson, Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility Education Programs for IBM Canada.

“IBM has a ver longstanding relationship with Mohawk College and the partnership continues to expand. When we were looking to bring P-TECH to Canada, Mohawk was a natural fit.”

Another pillar of the IBM-Mohawk collaboration is the IBM Skills Academy that offers seven industry-recognized micro-credentials.

Vaidehee Patel says the Business Process Analyst and Business Intelligence Analyst micro-credentials she earned while completing a post-graduate certificate in Business Analysis at Mohawk were a “tremendous opportunity” to gain industryvalidated expertise.

The tools and skills she learned were put to immediate work in research projects in her program and having the badges on her LinkedIn page and resumé are key, says Patel. And the micro-credentials were made highly affordable through her program fees.

“Getting hands-on experience with such tools is very valuable. The fact we could do that free of charge through Mohawk is amazing.”

Pictured: Vaidehee Patel, graduate