Ensuring a quality workforce means educational institutions working side-by-side with industry to anticipate and meet future needs. That’s what happened when Verizon Communications relocated its finance hub to Orlando and partnered with the University of Central Florida (UCF) to launch a capstone business course on the Internet of Things. And when the Walt Disney Company asked UCF to develop a 12-month deep machine learning program to train its technical staff. Partnerships like these give businesses direct access to skilled talent–both in and outside the classroom.

UCF bolsters economic prosperity in Central Florida and our state through partnerships. We align our research, teaching, and service to the needs of our regional workforce. Time and again, collaboration between UCF and industry has proven to be a powerful force for lifting lives and livelihoods.

John C. Hitt, UCF

From shared curriculum design to workforce development to employee tuition discounts and more, Orlando’s education community partners with companies in the truest sense when it comes to developing the right talent pipeline. Here are seven examples of industry-education partnerships developed by global companies to fill their talent pipelines in Orlando. 

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The newly renovated HQ for Electronic Arts Tiburon Photos by Preston Mack / EA Tiburon

1. Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts (EA) is a classic example of industry working with educational institutions to create its talent pipeline. Founded in 2004, EA worked with the City of Orlando, State of Florida and the University of Central Florida to create the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA). FIEA is a graduate video game development school offering an accredited master’s degree in interactive entertainment. Areas of study include game design, art, programming and production.

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Verizon’s Center of Excellence

2. Verizon

Availability of talent was a key factor in Verizon’s location choice for its Center of Excellence. Verizon considered over 300 locations across the nation before settling on Orlando, creating 1,100 new jobs in the region. A crucial reason that Verizon choose Orlando was its ability to partner with the Seminole State College of Florida. Seminole State created an additional accounting certificate program that allowed Verizon personnel the necessary instruction to pass the exam for Certified Public Accountants.

Deloitte’s Technology Delivery Center

3. Deloitte Consulting

Deloitte Consulting LLP selected Orlando for its Technology Delivery Center because the region’s sizable workforce and the amount of support for the business community. Deloitte collaborated with UCF to create tailored internship and Cooperative Learning (Co-Op) programs for students, modify curriculum to include additional software language education and increase software engineer graduates.

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Siemens engineer

4. Siemens

Siemens and the University of Central Florida recently celebrated 30 years of academic and research collaboration – a partnership that has yielded over 100 research projects and $10 million invested in UCF facilities. These investments include the Center for Diagnostics & Prognostics, Siemens Energy Center, Digital Grid Innovation Lab, and a grant to the university for Siemens’ proprietary Product Lifecycle Management software for 11,000 students in UCF’s College of Engineering & Computer Science.

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5. Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman keeps a full talent pipeline for its Laser Systems division in Orlando through partnerships with Orange County Public Schools and Valencia College. In 2009, Northrop Grumman helped establish the Wekiva High School Photonics Academy, where students develop the skills needed for operating and maintaining laser and photonics-based systems.

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Engineer at BRIDG facility

6. imec

A world-leading R&D and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, imec opened choose Orlando for its first U.S. photonics design center because of the region’s investment in advanced manufacturing education infrastructure, especially at UCF. imec’s decision was made even before the recent $2.3 million state investment in a new Center for Accelerated Training in Orlando’s downtown to support the advanced manufacturing talent pipeline.

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imec partnered with BRIDG, a public-private partnership with research ties to UCF, and co-located at its state-of-the-art facility in Osceola County. According to President and CEO Luc Vandenhove at the imec company announcement, “We will be working very closely with ICAMR [now BRIDG], local industry and especially UCF, which has very strong photonics expertise.”

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The Royal Bank of Canada’s Innovation Lab in Central Florida Research Park

7. Royal Bank of Canada

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)’s innovation lab set up shop four years ago right outside of UCF to take advantage of the university’s strong pipeline of software engineers. The Lab’s director Eddy Ortiz, named “RBC’s secret weapon in Fintech” by Bloomberg, takes full advantage of UCF’s hungry graduate students through numerous internship positions at the lab. According to Eddy, “choosing Orlando was the best location decision that we could have made. The talent we need is here, without the major competition from large companies like Google.”

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