Tag: Education and Health

WilmU Leading in Cybersecurity

Speed, Adaptability are Hallmarks of WilmU’s ‘Cream of the Crop’ Cybersecurity Programs in Delaware

A recent LinkedIn search turned up 125,000 cybersecurity open jobs – with nearly 5,000 of them in Delaware alone, including remote positions.

That shouldn’t be a surprise. Regular news reports about security breaches at high-profile retailers and businesses highlight the critical need for cybersecurity professionals in corporate America, as well as in government, law enforcement, military, intelligence and nonprofits.

Over the last decade, Wilmington University’s Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity (BSC) has been approved as a National Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency (NSA).

WilmU’s College of Technology offers cybersecurity degrees at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s level, a master of science in information systems technology with a concentration in information assurance and five five-course certificate programs: Digital Evidence Discovery, Digital Evidence Investigation, Cloud Practitioner, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). In total, over 1,500 students are enrolled in the various programs, making it one of WilmU’s biggest program areas. Students can earn their AWS and SCADA certifications in six months and their master’s degrees in two years.

The master’s program now has more than 400 students and will be adding 200 more soon, says Dr. James Fraley, chair of WilmU’s MSIST-Information Assurance program. He’s spent more than three decades in IT defense with McAfee, Northrop Grumman, DuPont and the U.S. Army Signal Corps, among other organizations, and participates in a number of NSA working groups and with the National Institute for Cyber Education.

“We need to find the people to fill these jobs, and the CAE designation establishes us as the cream of the crop among the over 300 schools nationwide offering cybersecurity classes,” says Fraley. “Employers are worried about new attacks – on software and supply chains – and about securing data, desktops, intellectual property and the cloud, given how business has changed during the pandemic.”

Cybersecurity Programs in Delaware Prepare Students for High Paying Jobs

WilmU is preparing students – many already in the workforce – for higher-paying jobs in the fast-growing cyber-security sector. Many of those students are being sent to WilmU by employers like Amazon, Walmart and Disney, who provide them with free tuition and the opportunity to improve their career opportunities.

“What makes our program unique is that we teach from a practitioner’s point of view,” Fraley said. “We can walk into the classroom and talk about what’s happening in the real world.”

About half of the students in the cybersecurity program are classified as “adult learners” looking for new career challenges and who want to network directly with experts in the field. While many of WilmU’s students take classes online, Fraley says he has more than 10 sections of classes with 20-plus local students in each who want the face-to-face experience. Those classes are full – with waiting lists – for day and evening sessions.

Wilmington University’s strength in this area is nimbleness.

“Virtually all universities have academic advisory committees that include members from outside organizations who provide input on what is needed in the marketplace,” says Dr. Mark Hufe, director of cybersecurity education at WilmU. “But that’s only helpful if the university can act on it. With input from our Center for Cyber Security Education Academic Advisory Committee and our adjunct instructor subject-matter experts who work in the field and have firsthand knowledge of industry trends, our agility enables us to put these new ideas into practice quickly.”

The WilmU’s new associate of science in cybersecurity was created in less than six months – a lightning pace for most academic institutions. The U.S. Navy reached out to WilmU in early 2021, the curriculum was created and vetted through the College of Technology, the Academic Council, the Curriculum Committee, the Faculty Senate and the State of Delaware in about three months, and the new program launched last September.

“To get a new degree program on the books in this short of a time frame is by anyone’s measure truly remarkable,” Hufe said, explaining that a similar process elsewhere could take 18 to 24 months. “As fast as technology changes, having the ability to respond to emerging needs quickly is essential.”

Fraley adds that the school refreshes its cybersecurity content on a regular basis because of the constant rate of change.

“The cloud is impacting all we’re doing,” Fraley said. “I teach an operating system security class that I’m rewriting. Since the pandemic, we’ve developed a virtual desktop infrastructure class and a ‘Desktop as a Service’ class because (businesses are concerned about) all the people who are working from home.”

WilmU’s undergraduate Certified Cloud Practitioner Certificate prepares students to sit for the AWS Cloud Practitioner (CCP) Exam. People who earn this certification set themselves up for jobs that come with six-figure salaries. The idea to offer the certificate came from one of WilmU’s Academic Advisory Committee members who works for a large Delaware bank.

The university also offers an Accelerated Graduate Certificate in Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Cybersecurity. In this context, “accelerated” refers to how undergraduate students in the BSC program can take the SCADA graduate courses for credit in both the undergraduate degree and the graduate SCADA certificate – and get a jump start on completing the master of science in cybersecurity, SCADA concentration,” Hufe said.

Students who complete the SCADA certificate while in the BSC program are 15 credits closer to completing their master’s degree, reducing their cost and time to graduate, he said.

“I think our early adoption of the online modality in 2020 constitutes another innovation,” Hufe said. “When the pandemic hit, we were able to deal with it seamlessly because our courses were already set up to be taught online, even when taught face to face. We basically just had to flip a switch.”

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Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program

NEW CASTLE (May 4, 2022) – The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) has launched a state-sponsored Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program (HCPLRP). Under the new loan repayment program, eligible clinicians may receive up to $50,000 per year in loan repayment for a maximum of four years of employment in Delaware.

Governor John Carney signed House Bill 48 with House Amendment 1 on Aug. 10, 2021, establishing the loan repayment program administered by the Delaware Health Care Commission (DHCC). The program is a valuable tool to incentivize providers to practice in Delaware, in addition to attracting more providers to the state’s primary care workforce.

“We are grateful to Governor Carney and to the General Assembly for their support of the Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program,” said DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik. “It’s clear that we need to find ways to attract more primary care providers to practice in Delaware, and this state-sponsored program is a strategic way to do that.”

“When it comes to health care, Delawareans deserve to be treated by highly trained professionals at medical facilities statewide,” said Rep. David Bentz, the lead sponsor of House Bill 48. “However, we are facing a shortage of doctors as the demand for them grows. That’s why we passed HB 48, which offers an attractive incentive to Delaware students in residency programs here, as well as establishes an education loan repayment program for medical professionals who currently work in Delaware. With this law, we can work toward recruiting and retaining top primary care doctors. I’m grateful to the Delaware Health Care Commission for taking a leadership role in running the grant program and ensuring that we have more health care workers throughout the state, including in underserved communities.”

In Fiscal Year 2022, the General Assembly allocated $1 million in state funds to support the loan repayment program. The Delaware Health Care Commission also received, in December 2021, a $1 million one-time contribution from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware. For Fiscal Year 2023, beginning July 1, 2022, the Governor’s Recommended Budget has proposed an additional $1 million in state funds to support the program.

“The Delaware Health Care Commission is excited to be able to implement HB48 and offer health care providers, who are interested in practicing in Delaware, worked to address this crisis through the development of the Health Care Workforce Subcommittee; supporting education through Delaware Institute of Medical Education and Research (DIMER) and (Delaware Institute of Dental Education and Research (DIDER); providing practice sustainability through the Primary Care Reform Collaborative; and now incentivizing providers to practice in Delaware with the State Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program,” said Dr. Nancy Fan, Chair of the Delaware Health Care Commission and a practicing OB/GYN. “We are excited to be able to implement HB48 and offer primary care providers, who will be practicing in Delaware, meaningful financial relief, so they can build a sustainable practice and increase access for our patients to quality, affordable care.”

Qualifying clinicians must be a new primary care provider in an ambulatory or outpatient setting and completed graduate education within six months of the application for HCPLRP being submitted. Eligible health care providers include physicians practicing family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, geriatrics, and psychiatry as well as Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse-Midwives, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Physicians Assistants practicing adult medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry/mental health, geriatrics, and women’s health.

Employers may apply on behalf of their affiliated, qualifying clinicians for education loan repayment grants. These sites may include:

  • Hospital primary care practices
  • Private practices
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers
  • Community outpatient facilities
  • Community mental health facilities
  • Free medical clinics

For awards issued to practitioners employed by Delaware health care facilities, hospitals and health systems must provide a 50% match for loan repayment awards.

Priority consideration will be given to Delaware Institute of Medical Education and Research (DIMER)-participating students and participants in Delaware based residency programs. Delaware is one of four states that does not have its own medical school. To accommodate the growing demand for primary care physicians across the state, the General Assembly created DIMER to support affiliated agreements with two medical schools in Philadelphia: Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) and Thomas Jefferson, Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC). A minimum of 120 academic seats are reserved annually (80 at Sidney Kimmel and 40 at PCOM) for Delaware residents applying to an allopathic or osteopathic degree program. New DIMER graduates are eligible for HCPLRP.

Delaware’s Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program application is available online.

Applications are now accepted on a rolling basis and will be reviewed on the following schedule:

  • June 1, 2022*
  • August 1, 2022*
  • October 1, 2022

* Applicants in the June 1 and August 1 review cycles must have completed their graduate medical education by July 2021 or sometime thereafter. Applicants in the October 1 review cycle must complete their graduate education by 2022 or sometime thereafter.

In addition to the state-sponsored Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program, Delaware has operated a federal state loan repayment program (SLRP) supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. SLRP offers similar incentives: up to $200,000 for four-year contractual agreements to provide services in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas. Where SLRP differs from HCPLRP is in designated areas of need, eligible professional disciplines, types of health care employment facilities that qualify, and date of graduation in respective disciplines.

To learn more about Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program and the federal state loan repayment program, visit the Health Care Commission’s website.

This article was originally posted on the Delaware Government website at: https://news.delaware.gov/2022/05/05/dhss-launches-state-health-care-provider-loan-repayment-program/

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DDOE Program Successes Support Statewide Economic Development

Delaware Department of Education Program Successes Support Statewide Economic Development

DE Department of Education Program

January 11, 2022 –

It’s been well documented that employers are struggling to find qualified workers or help existing employees get better jobs. That’s why states and municipalities focusing on the intersection of education and workforce development are seeing economic development success.

Forward-looking states see an aging workforce in key industries and students with skills that could translate to the changing needs of the workforce. They focus many of their efforts on middle and high schools and on retraining the existing workforce.

As Delaware eyes one of the biggest capital budgets the state has ever seen, Luke Rhine, director for career and technical education and STEM initiatives with the Delaware Department of Education, predicts that with a federal infrastructure bill in place, “connectivity, cybersecurity, those types of things are all going to be underlying infrastructure issues, which means we’ll see a lot of IT jobs directly connected to the expansion of that infrastructure.”

Rhine’s area is already supporting the change in the environment with:

  • College and career-ready programming in middle grades. “Our middle grades focus is really around student identity development, helping young people establish confidence and develop an identity within their schools, their communities and their future workplaces,” he says.
  • High school, which is centered around the state’s Delaware Pathways strategy. “It’s helping students determine what kind of post-secondary path is right for them – the job that they want to hold and the career that they want to pursue or whether they want to move into a two-year degree or a four-year degree or a credential program.”
  • Post-secondary education. This includes support of the state’s Registered Apprenticeship system and an increased focus around stackable credentials that count toward the pursuit of higher-level credentials and degree models.

“All of our initiatives are essentially employer-driven, which gives them substantial influence over education and training models,” Rhine says. “And then we work with post-secondary institutions and K-12 institutions to think differently around how we structure relationships. And that helps us recruit young people who see themselves in Delaware and as part of a community.”

Adult Career Pathway Strategy Fuels Delaware’s Work in Higher Education

Rhine says the state’s work in the higher education space is really an adult career pathway strategy that helps adults move as quickly as possible through higher education to pursue gainful employment.

For the credential model, the state is primarily working with four institutions, including the three vocational-technical (vo-tech) schools – Polytech, Sussex Tech and New Castle County – which each have an adult education division that runs the state’s Registered Apprenticeship program and short- and long-term credential programs.

“We want to ensure that a person who acquires a licensed practical nurse (LPN) credential is able to move immediately into employment and then that LPN credential allows them to navigate higher levels of education,” Rhine says. “The LPN’s credential also carries credit so a student can, with an LPN certificate, take less time to complete their associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing.”

Accomplishments in Workforce Development

During his seven years in his current role, Rhine says he’s most proud of three accomplishments:

  1. Broadening the definition of career and technical education (CTE). “People often think about CTE as areas like carpentry or cosmetology,” he says. “We are still focused on skilled trades and human services but have also diversified the types of industries and occupations that we support from a college and career-ready standpoint. It’s amazing what young people are doing in terms of their ability to code or automate or even use a drone to collect data for agriculture or construction. It’s very interesting how young people are translating their skills into data science. They’re asking themselves what they want to become and what steps they need to take to get there.”
  2. Student outcomes. “There are two outcomes that I’m most proud of,” Rhine says. “The first is the percentage of students who demonstrate college- and career-readiness, who are completing advanced coursework while still in high school. That can be a student who is part of a youth apprenticeship program, they’re taking college courses while still in high school, or completing AP, they’re in a paid work experience. Prior to last year, that number had increased to 58% from 38% over three years. The other thing that I’m really proud of is placement. More than 75% of our students are seamlessly entering higher education, with an increasing percentage who choose to simultaneously work, essentially working while upskilling.”
  3. Expansion of instructional programs. Rhine says more than 70% of youth in grades nine through 12 are enrolled in any given year in a career pathway, with two-thirds of graduating classes completing the program. “These are young people who have college credit, who have credentials, who have work experiences in the industry that they want to move into,” Rhine says. “These experiences help to shape who they are and accelerate their trajectory and network. And it’s a great way in which we can help to meet the future needs of Delaware employers at scale and across the state.”

But Rhine believes something else also has spurred greater interest in the state’s post-secondary programs.

“The last 18 months have caused adults to reflect on whether they’re on the right trajectory, if they have the relationships they want and if they have the relationship with their employer that they want,” he says.

Rhine’s team, working in partnership with the state’s technical school systems, are ready to do a full rollout of the youth apprenticeship program, with high school seniors sponsored by an employer and paid a living wage – the average is $17-plus an hour, with wage increases as they progress through the training program – while they’re simultaneously moving toward high-school graduation.

“We’re working with our three Technical School Districts as well as Delaware Technical Community College in partnership with the Associated Builders and Contractors, Delaware Contractors Association, the Delaware Restaurant Association and Tech Impact,” Rhine says. “We want employer-facing groups to recruit employers, and we want educational institutions to prepare more young people to this level of standard and then meet in the middle. So lots of young people, lots of employers, lots of talent. Marry that, away we go.”

Rhine also believes more people will be choosier about the jobs they want.

“I think you’re going to see increases in experiential learning models in higher education, or residency-type models in higher education, because people want to know what’s on the other end of that training program,” he says. “If you want to be a doctor, you do a residency. If you want to be a nurse, there’s a clinical experience. We’re seeing this in education as well. We launched a residency model where we’re actually paying students who want to move into education as resident teachers to work under the wings of a teacher mentor for a much longer period of time than was traditionally associated with student teaching.”

Rhine notes that Delaware schools like DelTech and Wilmington University found that a number of students in their programs needed remedial education, which don’t provide class credit. He said the statistics show that students who move into remedial courses are less likely to complete a credential or degree within a cohort graduation rate. So DelTech, as an example, has completely revamped its remedial education policy to simultaneously enroll youth and adults in credit-bearing math and language classes with the remedial programs and providing support to help the student get the credit toward certification or a degree.

Rhine says in-state schools are also embracing the idea of credit for prior learning.

“If credentials are gateways, then degrees and credentials should align,” he says. “If an older Delawarean enrolls in college with 20 years of work experience, our schools are trying to figure out how that work experiences translates into clock hours or credit hours so they don’t need to sit through things they already know how to do. That enables them to move faster in an apprenticeship program or earn a degree, and the research is very clear: Institutions that have more robust credit for prior learning policy see people graduate faster. It’s common sense.”

Rhine said his area is supporting other state agencies like the Department of Labor, which received funding to look at the H1B1 visa policy and a companion grant to expand IT training programs and a separate grant to expand Registered Apprenticeships. Rhine’s team also received an apprenticeship expansion grant focused on youth. There is great coordination across agencies, he says.

Rhine’s team also has worked to revise Regulation 525, which governs the administration of Delaware’s career and technical education programs.

“Regulations are like guardrails on a road,” he says. “What we’re trying to do with Reg 525 is to align the progress we’ve made with state’s college and career readiness agenda and how we think about CTE programs more globally.”

Rhine says Delaware’s size enables it to adapt and react quickly – and also provide scale.

“Every employer wants access to talent, and every school system with post-secondary institution that we work with wants access to employers who want to integrate into their community,” Rhine says. “Every single one.”

This article was originally posted on the Live Love Delaware website at: https://www.livelovedelaware.com/ddoe-program-successes-support-statewide-economic-development/

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Zip Code Wilmington Move to Virtual Learning Brings New Opportunities

Zip Code Wilmington Move to Virtual Learning Opened Doors for New Opportunities

virtual learning at Zip Code WIlmington

Success for Zip Code Wilmington can be defined in many ways, but Executive Director Desa Burton lights up when she talks about a recent student who loaded everything he owned into a car and drove to Wilmington from Dallas to join the program.

“He had every intention of going back to Texas, but he got a job here and is very happy. We have students who come to us from across the United States and its territories, such as Atlanta, Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, who are applying for or now have jobs here in Wilmington,” Burton says, adding that about 75% of her students stay in Delaware after graduation. “Zip Code attracts high-level talent to this area. Wherever these out-of-state students are, opportunities are not working for them so they’re willing to move here. Now we’re working on introducing more businesses outside our region to see that Delaware checks all the boxes for their employees in terms of quality of life, housing affordability, infrastructure, and resources available for young families.”

Considered one of the nation’s top three nonprofits of its type, Zip Code Wilmington is a 12-week coding bootcamp that gives students the technical, interpersonal, and leadership skills needed to secure a competitive developer job and increase their earning potential. Burton beams when asked about the non-technical part of the curriculum.

“We have an amazing professional development program. Sometimes that’s all I hear about in the final interviews,” says Burton. “Our hiring manager has more than 10 years of improv experience and he uses that to help the students with active listening, being able to answer questions, and move and flow in different interview settings. They get a resume when they leave. We help them create or fix up their LinkedIn profiles. We work with them on networking and teaching them how to do that. It’s really neat to see how having that secret sauce really makes such a big difference in the outcome of the student.”

Zip Code Wilmington’s training program offers two course tracks – full-stack Java Development with Spring Boot, Angular, and MySQL as well as Data Engineering and Analytics based on Python, R, and SQL.

When Burton arrived at Zip Code Wilmington in September 2019 – armed with an MBA and law degree she earned after leaving the military — she says she was “basically being put in charge of a very successful startup and being told not to break it.” Besides having to learn human resources, finance, accounting, she was suddenly being asked to “think not like a lawyer, but like a businessperson, especially when COVID hit.”

“We had to be innovative. We had to be scrappy. We had to get out there and make changes in the midst of a crisis,” she said.

Asked about her student demographics, Burton says the answer is different today than it was when she became executive director.

“I would have just told you then average age 35, career changers, adult learners,” she says. “After putting in all these innovative new programs, I can tell you we teach people 16 years old to 60. We were in seven high schools last year, teaching front-end software development.” Teaching in Delaware’s high schools is new. Burton explains, “Zip Code Wilmington is well known for training up folks who may or may not have gone to college, have some work experience or who may have already been in their career 5, 10, 15 years, and are either looking to change because the end is coming, or they don’t want to go back to school to get another degree if they have a degree. Some tried the degree route but didn’t like it or didn’t have the money for it. For some reason, they’re at a place where they need to get into tech and this is the way that they want to do it, through a 12-week course. As we view it, talent is distributed evenly, but opportunity is not. We provide opportunities!”

It costs Zip Code Wilmington $15,000 to train someone, although students will not pay more than $12,000. It costs a student $6,000 upfront to enter the program. If they get a job with a corporate partner, that company will pay the remaining $9,000. If they get a job with a non-corporate partner, they’re responsible for the remaining $6,000.

There are “scholarships” for students who served in the military or fall into a “needs-based category (i.e., 200% below the poverty line). Burton says those are the only ways that students don’t pay that initial tuition.

Placement fell in 2020 during the pandemic, when companies froze a lot of positions, to 61%, from previous years when Zip Code Wilmington placed students at a rate approaching 90% within six months. But Burton says things are picking up, with JPMorgan Chase announcing in January that they hired more than 30 Zip Coders in 2020. For now, the size of the cohorts reflects job placement forecasts – from 35 before the pandemic to 25 over the past 18-24 months – but placement is returning to an average of 80% and cohort size should return to normal the economy improves.

Making the Switch to Virtual Learning

Zip Code Wilmington had to be nimble and switch to training remotely in March 2020.

“Our instructors were concerned that the students would not have the same experience, that they would not bond as well, that they would not retain the knowledge as well,” says Burton. “I knew that this was not going to be a two-week deal, so we needed to figure out how to make it work and be remote for an extended period. We launched virtual training on March 13th.”

Zip Code started off with Zoom sessions but supplemented it with collaboration platforms such as Discord and Slack.

“Communication between the students never dropped. They can work freely together in a remote environment, connect with each other at will,” Burton says. “Everyone thought you must be next to each other to code, to look at each other’s screen, and touch each other’s keyboard. But now that we’re remote, everything is virtual. They’re able to meet, deliver training, edit code, and connect online seamlessly.”

“I told every remote student that they could set up a time to come in and meet with an instructor who can work with them in person. On the first day, they asked about it but once they started working online, no one asked again. It just worked out really well.”

Burton says there hasn’t been any difference in picking up the material between different age groups or other demographics.

“I think a virtual environment makes it much easier for people to just judge you based on your merit. I think in a virtual environment you have less of that “ism” happening because if an employer really needs to get a product off the line, they need to get coders in ASAP. The last thing they’re worried about is what are you wearing because guess what? They’re seeing you on a remote screen and they’re really focusing more on your code than anything else.”

Burton says Zip Coders are different from students that are going through the for-profit programs around the country, most of whom don’t disclose their placement rates and other outcomes like her organization does.

“Zip Coders are just different. They’re team players. They are hungry for change. They are committed, dedicated. There is just something about their personality that is so cool. I hear it a lot from candidates for our program. Other coding bootcamps are mostly for-profit. They’ve got to make money. They need to get people through the door and churn them through to get the tuition and then churn through the next one. They’re not really focused on figuring out the quality of the education that they’re given, because they don’t have to worry about that. We stick with our students for the next three to six months to make sure they get a job. We are incentivized to do so because we are transparent in our outcomes and report them on our website. Also, we do not receive the remainder of their tuition until our graduates get their first job.”

“Our mission is to help build the economy of this region. I can’t do that if people are coming in and not getting jobs. I can’t bring in 200 people during COVID when I know there’s no jobs out there, just so that I have money in my bank account. That doesn’t work. And so that’s why we’re different. They can train regardless of what’s happening in the economic environment. I cannot.”

Employers who had job freezes in 2020 are coming back too.

“Pre-COVID, some employers were consistently hiring. They were there for every power interview week, which is that week after the students finish the training. Other employers were periodic and would show up at certain points of the year. I’m seeing more activity now from both those who consistently hired and from those periodic employers. They’re coming in more often and they’re hiring more people.”

Online training is here to stay at Zip Code Wilmington. Burton says, “Because of what we learned during COVID, because of the fact we were able to do remote training and broaden our outreach, and I want to continue to do that. Not to the detriment of the region, but to attract people here.”

Companies often send their employees to Zip Code for either upskilling or reskilling, two fairly interchangeable terms. They may send someone who’s been in customer service for 10 years, knows everything about the company and its culture, but they want to put them into a technical role. Or they were in a testing role of some kind but want to expose them to Java programming. Or they invite Zip Code in to teach a group of people a skill, particularly if they want to improve their diversity (DE&I) numbers.

“In some cases, they want to move the needle in a very short period of time,” says Burton, adding that larger companies often go into universities and hire diverse people who don’t have technical skills and ask Zip Code to teach them how to be coders.

Enrollment over time has been about 31% female and about the same for Black and Latino students. The program was designed to lower the barriers of entry – making the training accessible and affordable to all – which has resulted in remarkable diversity outcomes over its six-year history.

Looking ahead over the next 12 to 15 months, Burton would like to get its placement numbers back up to pre-COVID levels or better; incorporate online learning into the strategy of Zip Code going forward; and get into more high schools to do front-end training and expose students to coding possibilities.

“Right now, about 65% of Delaware public schools have computer-science training; I think the state should be in the 90s, whether that’s with us, with Pathways, or a university,” Burton says.

As far as industries go, Zip Code Wilmington works mainly with the financial sector with companies like Chase, M&T Bank, CSC, Marlette Funding, and Capital One. “I would like to broaden that and get our eggs into some other baskets,” says Burton, adding that InterDigital came through “in a big way” over this past summer by giving Zip Code Wilmington the money to launch that program in those high schools across the state.

“I was talking to a couple of cohort graduates yesterday who met at Zip Code and now have a young daughter. They told me that because of Zip Code, they have money for daycare and can start a college-savings fund. They both have new cars, and they’re comfortable paying their bills without worrying. That to me is success.”

“The number one concern for out-of-state employers is having access to a labor force that can meet their needs. And I think it’d be very important for employers to know that Zip Code can scale. We can train more people if there are more jobs. We train to the jobs that are available or that look they’re coming available. If employers are considering moving their headquarters here or opening a second location in Delaware and they’re worried about whether we have enough coders coming in, that won’t be a problem. We can do custom training. If they need 100 people ready to go when they open the doors, we can help them achieve that goal.”

Burton says she doesn’t see the organization opening, for example a Zip Code Buffalo or St. Louis, but the pandemic experience of offering training remotely makes it easier to support corporate partners with offices in other locations.

“It’s something we hadn’t really considered before. When we trained solely in Wilmington, in person, our reach was somewhat narrow. Now that we’ve grown from all this innovation, we can see that there’s a lot more that we can do with a broader geographical footprint without leaving Wilmington are or losing focus on our commitment to the greater Delaware region.”

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Delaware Space Grant Consortium Launches Students into Innovation

Delaware Space Grant Consortium Launches Students into Innovation

delaware space grant program Dr. Muldrew

NASA is looking for more than a few good scientists, and Delaware is producing an abundance of them through NASA’s Space Grant program.

According to Dr. Milton Muldrow, chair of Science, Biology, and Environmental Science & Policy at Wilmington University and an associate director of the Delaware Space Grant Consortium, NASA’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Project provides education and research resources for college-level students who have a potential future with the federal aeronautics and space agency.

NASA created the Space Grant program in 1989. Its national network includes more than 850 affiliates from universities, colleges, industry, museums, science centers, and state and local agencies. These affiliates belong to one of 52 consortia in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Creating a Tech-Savvy Workforce for the Future

Through the Consortium, Delaware aims to contribute to the technologically literate workforce that NASA and other STEM entities will need in the years ahead.

“The project’s mission is to produce the workforce of the future for NASA,” Muldrow said. “They do this through research engagement for college students, internships and fellowship programs.”

The objectives of Space Grant are to encourage cooperative programs among universities, the aerospace industry, and federal, state and local governments, as well as interdisciplinary education, research, and public service programs related to aerospace. Space Grant also aims to promote a strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics pipeline through higher education experiences. Muldrow’s introduction to the project came six years ago, when he became chair of Wilmington University’s science programs.

“After we developed science programs at Wilmington University, we immediately tried to align with Space Grant,” he said. “We wanted to offer more opportunities to our students.”

Since then, he added, several students have gotten involved and succeeded.

“My first student to receive a grant through the program created hundreds of maps of coral communities off the Florida Keys based off publicly available data,” Muldrow said. “She did amazing work.”

Interested students work with Muldrow, who submits a proposal to Space Grant based on his research goals. Students who participate in the program come away with tangible deliverables to offer potential employers in their chosen field, along with a notable affiliation.

“The name of the game, coming out of college, is no longer about just a degree,” Muldrow said. “Employers really want to see what you have done. And seeing that a potential employee has participated in a NASA project is a big deal for employers.”

The Space Grant program gives Delaware colleges and universities another means of producing valuable contributors to today’s innovation society.

“When our students get jobs at big labs and institutions, it shows the world the kind of talent we have in Delaware,” Muldrow said. “I’m just blown away every semester, not just by how intelligent the students are, but also how motivated they are.”

When students are accepted into the Space Grant program, they don’t just work on their projects. They also learn how to conduct themselves as scientists and comprehend the importance of being competitive. 

“The students learn skills such as working hard and going above and beyond because, at the end of the day, they’re competing with people globally for jobs,” Muldrow said. “Having that NASA banner next to your name is impressive, and our students go on to do great things.”

The Space Grant program also spotlights the work Delaware has contributed to the world of science and technology. Besides Wilmington University, the Delaware Space Grant Consortium includes the University of Delaware, Delaware Technical Community College, and Delaware State University. In Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College and Villanova University are participants. 

“It highlights the work that’s already being done in Delaware – work that people may not know,” Muldrow said. “Our director, Dr. William Matthaeus, is world-renowned. He helps develop satellites, including the Parker Solar Probe that launched to the sun.”

Through Space Grant, a group of Wilmington University students recently saw their work launched into space.

“The students helped to build a payload that takes various measurements while in space,” Muldrow explained. “This one went off into space from Wallops Island, Virginia, this spring. That is a national project, and to be represented on the national stage is putting Delaware innovation on the map.”

The student who produced maps of the ocean floor while still enrolled at Wilmington University was offered jobs in her field before receiving her diploma.

“She has moved up quickly,” Muldrow said. “She now works for DNREC – the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control – doing exactly what she did for us: she is a GIS specialist creating maps.”

Another recent graduate entered the Space Grant program with the primary goal of working in a lab. She procured a job at Merck, a pharmaceutical company, using Space Grant as her primary experience when she graduated. And she’s already been promoted.

An additional Wilmington University alum went on to the environmental engineering program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, which partners with NASA. 

“We have students participating in projects such as GIS mapping, policy research, biological research, and genetic engineering,” Muldrow said. “Our students have gone on to do some amazing things thanks to NASA’s Space Grant Project.”

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Health Care Student Loan Forgiveness Programs Attract Doctors and Nurses in Delaware

Delaware’s Health Care Loan Forgiveness Programs Attract Doctors and Nurses to Delaware

delaware student loan repayment programs for medical professionals

August 30, 2021 –

Delaware is advancing healthcare access statewide by offering a pair of student loan repayment programs that encourage qualifying medical professionals to choose Delaware for their practice.

A shortage of healthcare professionals – especially primary care practitioners – is being felt throughout the United States. But Delaware is staving off the service delays and delivery gaps that can be caused by this shortage by attracting much-needed medical personnel to the First State with a pair of programs that help them cover the cost of their education and training.

Delaware has been known for its Delaware Student Loan Repayment Program for healthcare providers since the program was established in 2001. In fact, an article by Money magazine identifies Delaware as one of “11 states and cities that will help you pay off your student loans.” In 2021, the Delaware Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program was created to strengthen Delaware employer efforts to recruit and retain quality healthcare professionals even further.

“Delaware may be a tiny state,” the Money article notes, “but it is offering big bucks to healthcare professionals looking to move and work there.”

Two Delaware Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Programs Available

Details of the two programs offered in Delaware are as follows:

  • The newly created Delaware Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program offers grant awards up to $50,000 per year for a maximum of four years to new primary care providers who have recently completed their graduate education. Administered by the Delaware Health Care Commission, the program serves family medicine physicians, specialists, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants. Priority consideration may be given to Delaware Institute of Medical Education and Research-participating students and participants in Delaware-based residency programs.

In addition, hospitals, private practices, and other healthcare organizations may apply for grants on behalf of their qualifying employees. All facilities or organizations submitting applications must accept Medicare and Medicaid patients and be located in underserved areas or areas of need. Any hospitals submitting applications also must pledge a dollar-for-dollar match.

“Our primary care doctors and their teams are the first line of defense in our healthcare system and the personal time they spend with their patients helps create healthier communities one family at a time,” Delaware State Representative Bryan Shupe. “Investing in the future of our local doctors, through this public-private partnership, will set a precedent in focusing on our local communities and the health of our local families.”

Further details about the Delaware Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Program are available here.

  • In place since 2000, the Delaware Student Loan Repayment Program offers awards ranging from $30,000 to $100,000 for up to four years to healthcare professionals who live in Delaware and work in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas. Administered by the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, the program serves qualified advanced and mid-level professionals in dental, behavioral/mental health and primary care and is open to both recent graduates considering moving to or staying in Delaware as well as to practitioners already employed for several years by a qualified Delaware practice site.

A flyer about the Delaware Student Loan Repayment Program may be downloaded here

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Del Tech Breaks Ground on Automotive Center of Excellence

Del Tech breaks ground on Automotive Center of Excellence


GEORGETOWN — Delaware Technical Community College broke ground Thursday on a 13,500-square-foot Automotive Center of Excellence on the college’s Owens Campus in Georgetown.

This facility, along with the college’s new training center in Middletown, will house the first diesel mechanic training program in the region.

The ACOE will double the number of automotive technicians trained at Delaware Tech in Georgetown each year from 20 to 40 and will allow the College to train up to 15 diesel mechanics per year.

“The construction of this facility is in direct response to a dire workforce need for more diesel mechanics and auto technicians in our state and our region,” said Delaware Tech President Mark T. Brainard. “We are thankful for the generous support of our government and community partners, who are the reason we are able to break ground on this project today.”

The expected completion date for the ACOE is November 2020.
Delaware Tech received a $1.97 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to support construction of the facility, along with $1.8 million from the state’s Higher Education Fund, and $120,000 from Sussex County Council.

This funding is in addition to generous support from many organizations and individuals in the state.

“For years we’ve heard that there are just not enough auto technicians in Delaware, which is why I’ve long supported the Economic Development Administration grant to help this Automotive Center for Excellence program get up and running, and I’ve waited a long time for this groundbreaking,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. “This center will give students on Delmarva a great-paying trade to learn, allow them to stay and raise a family in the area instead of moving away for work, and give our area dealerships and diesel operators the workforce they so desperately need. This is a win-win for Delaware’s economy now and in the future.”

The total cost to build the ACOE is $5.4 million. In addition to the government support noted, more than a dozen organizations and individuals have pledged donations that enabled Del Tech to secure the 35 percent match required by the EDA including the USDA Rural Development program and the Delaware Automobile and Truck Dealers’ Association.

Labor market data indicate more than 3,000 automotive technicians and more than 800 diesel mechanics are employed across Delmarva with average annual earnings of $39,874 and $44,595, respectively.

Over the next 10 years, the region is projected to have 3,278 openings for automotive technicians due to retirements, job turnover and a 7 percent growth rate.

An estimated 948 job openings are expected for diesel mechanics in the same period due to retirements, job turnover and a 17 percent growth rate.

This article was originally posted on the Delaware State News at: https://delawarestatenews.net/news/del-tech-breaks-ground-on-automotive-center-of-excellence/

Kurt Foreman


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