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LSU requests $14M in DXC deal, readies for partnership

LSU could get as much as $14 million of the $25 million dedicated to higher education in the DXC Technology deal that is expected to bring 2,000 jobs to New Orleans if the school’s request is approved by state officials.

Rick Koubek, LSU executive vice president and provost, says the $14 million ask hasn’t been approved yet, but says the school already has plans in place to update the general education and computer science curriculum, revamp online offerings, build partnerships with K-12 institutions and embark on a major research partnership with the firm.

Louisiana Economic Development is close to signing the cooperative endeavor agreement with DXC, LED Secretary Don Pierson says in a statement, and the firm will then create an “extensive description” of the positions DXC needs to fill in the short- and long-term. That will help guide the higher education piece, and the state will then sign agreements with the university systems—LSU, Southern, University of Louisiana and Louisiana Community and Technical College.

“It’s too early to identify exactly how funds will be allocated, but we will use the full scope and breadth of Louisiana’s higher education system to deliver training that’s appropriate, with DXC Technology advising colleges and universities on customizing courses for today’s end-to-end IT services environment,” Pierson says, adding the plan will include a focus on training women, minorities, veterans, the disabled and other disadvantaged adults.

As the technology sector has grown here, a workforce shortage in the industry has been magnified. The promise of low labor costs that make the state attractive to major tech players has collided with the need to recruit workers and retain recent graduates of LSU and other schools, who can often earn higher starting salaries elsewhere. IBM has already missed the mark on its promised job target, though the state extended its deal with the firm.

The DXC deal has been touted as one of the largest economic development announcements in Louisiana’s history, and by 2025 the firm says it will have 2,000 employees making an average of $66,500 per year, which is only slightly below the average starting salary—$70,700—of LSU computer science graduates.

The $25 million is part of a more than $100 million incentive package state officials put together to lure the firm. For LSU, it comes on top of a $14 million cash infusion the school received in 2013 from IBM’s deal in Baton Rouge.

Some of the updates LSU is planning are similar to those done as a result of the IBM partnership, Koubek says, including updates to the computer science curriculum. But unlike the IBM deal, in which LSU focused mostly on workforce issues, the DXC deal will also include a major research partnership.

“The IBM relationship has really just been about workforce and computer science technology,” Koubek says. “The DXC relationship expands it to be more global … but it also includes this partnership on research and development.”

That will mean three to four joint projects per year—taken on by LSU researchers and students and DXC—in “areas important to DXC and their clients.” For instance, the team will likely do research on things like healthcare and environmental issues, potentially in areas like artificial intelligence or cybersecurity.

—Sam Karlin

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