West Valley Community Colleges Create Academy to Prepare Students for Microsoft Careers

With 3 new Microsoft datacenters opening in the West Valley next year, there are many job opportunities for current college IT students. Two centers in Goodyear and one in El Mirage will open in 2021. This week, the tech company announced a partnership with Glendale Community College and Estrella Mountain Community College. They’re building a datacenter academy that will churn out employable IT graduates who already live in the West Valley.

“I think it shows how nimble the community colleges are in terms of responding to local workforce needs,” EMCC President Dr. Rey Rivera said. “I think it also shows that the West Valley is a major player in the IT field.”

Renovations in the school’s computer commons will begin next spring. The area will become a specialized IT lab where students from both colleges can get hands-on experience with industry-standard cloud storage hardware and networking equipment.

“Microsoft is going to be donating some servers, some equipment,” Rivera said. “They’re also going to be providing the construction crews to help us renovate the space.”

The colleges will be incorporating Microsoft-specific curriculum to the IT classes they already have in order to create a pipeline of job applicants. “We do anticipate their employees at these data centers become mentors to our students in the program, so it’s going to be a very symbiotic relationship,” Rivera said.

The datacenters academy will start in the Fall of 2021, and even if students don’t land at Microsoft, Rivera says they’ll have the skills they need to grab the jobs of the future.

The Microsoft datacenter campus in El Mirage (near Olive Ave. and Dysart Road) is projected to create $842 million in economic output over a ten-year period, including the employment of mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, and datacenter technicians. By the year 2025, all Microsoft datacenters will also be using 100% renewable energy.

“Microsoft’s vision to be carbon negative by 2030 certainly shares our quality of life values in El Mirage, and I commend their commitment to sustainable solutions for their cloud infrastructure,” said El Mirage Mayor Alexis Hermosillo.

The datacenter’s economic impact also includes the development of local infrastructure including street improvements along Olive Avenue and Dysart Road. El Mirage expects that Microsoft and Gila River Water Storage, LLC will recharge and replenish groundwater levels in the Phoenix Active Management Area.


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