The Army Futures Command (AFC) names Austin Community College District (ACC) as the home for its new Software Factory. The Software Factory at ACC will be the first of its kind and will provide a training pipeline for soldiers and ACC students. The factory is designed to help students rapidly scope and solve real-life problems through advanced software development processes.
“This is not happening at any other community college or university around the country. This is going to be a state-of-the-art facility and collaboration that doesn’t exist anywhere else. That’s the experience we want our students to have. They’ll work side-by-side with the AFC to share ideas and develop solutions,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC chancellor. “We want our students to come out of our programs with the right skill sets necessary to be successful, and AFC offers the unique opportunities to help make that happen. I couldn’t be more proud.”
“I can’t wait to get Army soldiers in here interacting with students from Austin Community College, and really the community at large.” says General John M. “Mike” Murray, AFC commanding general. “It’s going to force us to think differently about how we think about the future. I think there’s nothing but goodness here in terms of bringing fresh ideas to solve problems.”
The Software Factory at ACC is the first soldier-led software factory for the Army. The vision is to develop a pathway to two- and four- year degrees and connect soldiers and students with industry partners. ACC was selected to fill the educational need based on the college’s reputation for being a feeder for talent, innovation of its advanced ACCelerator learning lab, and launch of its recent bachelor’s degree in software development.
“The Army selected Austin for a reason. This is where you find innovation and IT expertise,” says General Murray. “It was a natural opportunity to partner with Austin Community College, which I’ve just been a huge fan of since I got to Austin.”
“Partnerships are really what makes us run well,” says Gigi Edwards Bryant, ACC Board of Trustees chair. “To bring the military to Austin Community College District to interface with our students is the largest step we could ever take in a partnership. It will be an opportunity that our students have never seen before.”
The Software Factory at ACC will build on the college’s Computer Science/Information Technology programs and will offer specialized training for new technologies such as data science and artificial intelligence. The curriculum will be developed in partnership between Austin Community College District and Futures Command leadership, with support from invited global software development companies.
“Modern software development is not something that an individual does in a corner with headphones on anymore. Instead, now it’s about teamwork. It’s about how you function as a team to scope problems and code solutions to those problems. You can’t do it without a collaborative space, and ACC is absolutely a collaborative space,” says Maj. Vito Errico, Software Factory co-director. “It’s coming together now because local community partners here with Futures Command believe in the idea of it.”
The factory will be located at ACC’s Rio Grande Campus in downtown Austin. It will stretch out across portions of the second and third floors of the main building totaling approximately 26,500 square feet, with shared spaces for AFC and ACC students to interact.
“Being able to really nest here with ACC is going to be great, because it allows the opportunities for collaboration with academia and industry down the line,” says Maj. Jason Zuniga, Software Factory co-director.
“This is innovation at the peak. This is collaboration at the peak. This is transforming the community, and they’re a part of it,” says Dr. Rhodes.
The Software Factory at ACC is expected to open in January 2021 with its first cohort of 30 soldiers and civilians. A second cohort is expected to begin in summer 2021. More than 15,000 service members expressed interest in the first week this was announced.
For more information about AFC, visit army.mil/futures.
For more information about ACC, visit austincc.edu. To learn more about the college’s CS/IT programs, visit austincc.edu/csit.