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Northeastern University pioneers new learning model in Silicon Valley

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, the world leader in expe­ri­en­tial learning, will open a series of edu­ca­tional hubs embedded directly in select com­pa­nies across the Bay Area, begin­ning in Sil­icon Valley. The research uni­ver­sity is bringing its century-​​old expe­ri­en­tial learning model and global industry net­work to a northern Cal­i­fornia market that demands more pro­fes­sionals edu­cated in sci­ence, tech­nology, engi­neering, and math—particularly women and minorities.

Northeastern University, the world leader in experiential learning, will open a series of educational hubs embedded directly in select companies across the Bay Area, beginning in Silicon Valley. The research university is bringing its century-old experiential learning model and global industry network to a northern California market that demands more professionals educated in science, technology, engineering, and math—particularly women and minorities.

Northeastern University–Silicon Valley is the latest addition to the university’s global network, which includes the flagship campus in Boston; regional campuses in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Seattle; and more than 3,000 industry partners worldwide. The university’s presence in Silicon Valley is unique due to its co-location with an entrepreneurial and widely respected industry partner, Integrated Device Technology (NASDAQ:IDTI).

This hub will feature a technology-focused portfolio delivered through online and hybrid formats, enabling students to combine the convenience and power of online learning with the benefits of face-to-face instruction. Northeastern will collaborate with partner companies, such as IDT, on tailoring curriculum and creating real-world experiential opportunities as part of each degree and certificate program.

Northeastern University–Silicon Valley will also create a research ecosystem leveraging the university’s faculty and research centers to benefit the entire region.

“Northeastern has never been bound by location,” said President Joseph E. Aoun. “Our co-op program takes students around the world, and our regional campus network provides experiential learning for professionals in a knowledge-based economy. Northeastern’s Silicon Valley hub builds on our approach of seeing businesses as partners and new regions as opportunities to empower human potential.”

2013 State of the University

Northeastern’s novel approach differs from established universities in the region and others that have opened free-standing campuses there due to its co-location with an industry partner and its focus on experiential education. Experiential learning, powered by the university’s signature cooperative education program, lies at the heart of academic life at Northeastern. The university’s Silicon Valley curriculum adds an extra experiential dimension through cooperative education placements, corporate residencies, and special projects.

Based in San Jose, IDT is providing Northeastern 8,000-square-feet of space—with room to triple in size—that will offer IDT employees and other professionals throughout the region educational programs designed to advance their careers.

“IDT’s partnership with Northeastern will bring budding engineering and research talent into our corporate offices, but the benefits will extend far beyond our campus,” said Greg Waters, IDT’s president and CEO. “Northeastern’s programs and approach to applied research will serve as an incubator for top-tier talent, grooming students for careers in technology in Silicon Valley and beyond. It’s a bridge between academia and the tech industry that should be welcomed by tech-focused students and companies alike.”

Thirty-three percent of job openings in the San Francisco Bay Area prefer or require an advanced degree, while only 18 percent of the workforce holds such a degree, according to the Burning Glass Labor/Insight database. In the computer science field, the gap is particularly acute: there have been more than 12,000 graduate-level job openings over the past year, but institutions in the region produce fewer than 500 master’s degree graduates annually.

Northeastern University–Silicon Valley’s initial offerings will include a master’s degree in engineering management, and two certificate programs in data science and technology project management. The portfolio of educational offerings will continue to be shaped with input from industry partners.

“Many universities are building online infrastructure and capabilities,” said Philomena Mantella, senior vice president and CEO of the Northeastern University Global Network. “The Northeastern advantage is an online experiential model that leverages the learning power of workplace experiences for our students.”

“We are creating something unique in higher education,” added Aoun. “Universities are the engines of economic growth and prosperity. We must continue to adapt to meet new demands and be co-creators of the new economy.”