Programmers come home to OOST

A new Object Oriented Software Technology program promises to combat Canada’s shortage of information technology professionals.

The program, offered at the University of Calgary, Saint Mary’s University and the University of Regina, will work with local IT companies to train much needed computer programmers.

"Basically, we’re a program at the U of C in partnership with industry," said David Keith, Information Technology Training for Industry program director.

"It’s a 10-month program in which industry directs our curriculum [and] they tell us what they’d like to see modelled in the curriculum and design structures, and offer the students their four-month work practicum."

In 712 hours of classroom training over six months, students learn to use the latest software development and analysis tools, as well as develop software in a team environment that emulates conditions in industry.

Since most OOST instructors are from the local IT industry, they are able to offer high-quality and relevant training which puts OOST graduates in demand, according to Keith.

"In Calgary, we are considered to be the best diploma program of this kind," said Keith. "I can think of about five people who, since the program’s inception [in 1997], aren’t presently working in IT."

OOST is not for everyone, though. Tuition costs $22,500, and the selection procedure for one of the 50 seats available semi-annually includes a personal interview and a review of work experience.

"We basically look for people who have a previous degree or very strong technical skills," said Keith.

In addition to enhancing students’ technical skills, the program also teaches student employment strategies.

"They spend a lot of time arranging the practicum for us and on helping us prepare for interviews and giving out resumés," said OOST student Derek Miao. "I think it’s one of the major reasons why this is a successful program."

Some students are using the program to supplement computer skills that are dated.

"I graduated from the U of C in 1988 from Computer Science and I’ve been working in this field using C and C++ but I want to move myself to Internet programming and e-business," said Miao. "The lab work is quite close to the real world."

Keith cautions that the diploma program is not a replacement for a degree program.

"On the positive side, you’re getting a lot of new technology," he said. "On the negative side, I would be negligent to say we have the same comprehensiveness as a degree program, but that’s not what we’re about."

For more information, visit www.oost.ca.

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