MCLA Computer Science Department Receives $100,000 Skills Capital Grant

March 17, 2022

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has received a $100,000 Skills Capital Grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education to support the update of the College’s Hardware and Robotics Lab, operated by the MCLA Computer Science department. These updates will provide opportunities for students to gain hands-on learning experience in network security, network administration, and software development.  

MCLA’s Computer Science program has a 95% job placement rate, with many students receiving offers of employment prior to the conferral of their degree. Students can earn a bachelor of science degree in computer science with concentrations in electrical engineering, software development, information technology, business information systems, and bioinformatics. 

Skills Capital grants are awarded to education programs that leverage local partnerships and curricular opportunities to create employment opportunities in critical employment sectors across the state. The Computer Science department has created proactive partnerships with the Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC) and General Dynamics to ensure that MCLA’s Computer Science curriculum reflects industry needs. The proposal to update the MCLA Hardware and Robotics Lab was developed through a partnership between MCLA, Berkshire Community College, and General Dynamics.  

The Hardware Lab will replicate physical servers, allowing students the experience of working directly with software running on classroom-based hardware. These skills are directly applicable to students interested in advanced manufacturing jobs. The grant will also support the Robotics Lab’s acquisition of electrical engineering equipment including programmable logic controllers, circuit breakers, and sensors that companies such as General Dynamics use regularly in manufacturing work.  

Preparing students for the workforce is an essential piece of MCLA’s curriculum, so these labs have been developed to align with the professional work students will do in internships and after graduation. Many computer science students use the materials in these campus labs to prepare for advanced internships at local and regional organizations. The labs are also open for students to complete on-campus internships using lab equipment. This option enables accessibility to job training for students unable to complete a traditional internship because of transportation limitation or other financial barriers.