Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
The University of Utah plans to begin offering an interdisciplinary certificate for data center engineering this spring.

SALT LAKE CITY — A new undergraduate certificate program at the University of Utah will prepare students for work in large data centers, such as those used by government agencies or companies like eBay and Goldman Sachs.

The University of Utah Academic Senate on Monday approved the new interdisciplinary program, which draws from existing coursework in the College of Engineering's mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science departments.

Valerio Pascucci, a computer science professor and director of the new program, said the program is designed in conjunction with an internship program to give students hands-on experience in large data centers. He said the program will start out small with a cohort of 10 to 20 students and already requests for interns from businesses exceeds that number.

"This is a growing area so there is immediate demand," he said. "This is really an industry that is growing a lot here in Utah."

When asked if the program was designed in response to the new NSA Data Center in Bluffdale, Pascucci said students who complete their certification would have the skills to work in that type of environment, but the program was not designed to prepare Utah students for work with the NSA.

"That’s a very niche area where people can get top security clearance," he said. "That’s not our target, we’re really targeting the general industry."

The Data Center Engineering certificate will require 27 credit hours and is expected to be ready for the spring 2014 semester. Pascucci said because the certificate is earned in addition to baccalaureate studies, the time it takes a student to complete the program will be dependent on their schedule.

The program also must receive final approval from the University of Utah Board of Trustees.


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