Radford University partners with 1901 Group to enhance tech talent pipeline
A recent industry partnership with 1901 Group, a thriving cybersecurity and cloud technologies company, has enabled students in Radford University’s Department of Information Technology to gain valuable experience and skillsets in one of the Commonwealth’s fastest-growing and in-demand job markets.
Last fall, Radford University announced the partnership with the Reston-based cloud computing company that also operates a center in neighboring Blacksburg, Virginia. The company is expanding at both locations, which is projected to create 805 new jobs, including 580 in Montgomery County.
Through the partnership, 1901 Group has joined the University’s Applied Research Center (ARC), an industry consortium in the Artis College of Science and Technology that brings together students, faculty and regional industry partners to explore emerging enterprise technologies. The ARC provides real-world learning experiences and encourages students to interact with industry professionals, thus enhancing the University’s tech talent pipeline.
"Attracting, developing and retaining premium talent is crucial for our industry, and we are excited to join Radford University to support this mission,” said Sonu Singh, 1901 Group CEO. “Our long-standing relationship with Radford University provides students with a meaningful work experience and educational opportunities through mock interviews, internships, real-world projects and permanent positions. Hands-on industry experience with cloud technologies increases job opportunities as it reduces the time, expense and risk of hiring new graduates."
The ARC was inspired by the vision of Nancy E. Artis ’73 and her husband, Pat, who recognized the need for Radford University students to gain experiential education working with information technology professionals. Other members include Carilion, Excella and Salesforce.
Last fall, alumnus Ben Pruitt ’15, a 1901 Group software developer, tasked students in a web programming course with skill-based projects in ServiceNow, a technical management support company utilized by both Radford University and 1901 Group.
“The course objectives aligned with 1901 Group objectives,” explained Dr. Jeff Pittges, ARC director. “We added value to 1901 Group by solving a problem for them, and at the same time, our students learned something about ServiceNow, which is an incredible skill to have. So, whether our students go work for 1901 Group or somebody else, they developed a skill that a lot of undergraduates don’t get.”
Pruitt visited campus several times throughout the semester to engage with students in a class in which he, too, once participated as a Radford University Information Technology major.
“He worked with them very closely, and by end of semester, the students knew Ben and he knew the students,” Pittges said. “That’s the way we want this partnership to work, and the fact that we were able to find an alumnus who wanted to give back was so valuable. He went above and beyond what he was expected to do.”
At the end of the project, every student who participated was guaranteed an interview for an internship or a full-time position with 1901 Group.
“1901 Group is an outstanding partner,” Pittges said. “They are giving our students valuable experiences they cannot obtain in the classroom.”
Last fall’s projects were so successful that Pittges and Pruitt are collaborating on additional class projects this spring. The dynamic partnership builds upon Radford University’s mission of producing students with the tools to address the social, economic and environmental issues confronting our region, nation and world.