STC inspires Stanford University to implement Google IT certificate

Photo Caption: South Texas College Computer Information Technologies program has announced its partnership with Stanford University’s Office of Digital Education to begin utilizing a Google IT certificate program first established by CIT in 2020 to begin training community colleges in the San Francisco Bay area. Twelve Students from Thelma R. Salinas STEM Early College High School in La Joya (top) and five students from Daniel P. King Pharr-San Juan-Alamo (PSJA) College and University Center in San Juan were among the first cohort of dual credit high school students to receive industry-recognized credentials by Google earlier this year.  Photo credit: South Texas College Communications

By Joey Gomez, South Texas College Communications

MCALLEN, TEXAS – A unique certificate program established by South Texas College’s Computer Information Technology (CIT) department is quickly gaining recognition among higher education institutions across the nation.

STC has announced its partnership with Stanford University’s Office of Digital Education to begin utilizing a Google IT certificate program first established by CIT in 2020, to begin training community colleges in the San Francisco Bay area.

Collaborating with STC, administrators from Stanford say they have begun their own pilot program facilitated by the university and the Bay Area Community College Consortium (BACCC), which is comprised of 28 colleges around the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas, in order to integrate a Google Data Analytics certificate into community college curricula.

“The work you all have done at STC is incredible. I think the success rate that South Texas College has had is fantastic, so that is definitely something we want to highlight and make sure others are inspired,” said Michael Acedo, assistant director of Project Innovation and Technology with Stanford University Digital Education. “Nick (Hinojosa) with the college’s (CIT) program has been very gracious in talking us through their process, which has been done by designing their coursework around the curriculum and around the certificates. STC has showed us what is possible, and we are using this as an example.”

Since fall 2020, STC students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technologies have been offered the specialized certificate. The program has counted 895 certificate completions by students to date.

CIT also recently celebrated its first cohort of dual credit high school students through a unique pilot program which began fall 2023 that enabled young students earning associate degrees in computer science, the chance to earn a Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate while taking their Programming Fundamentals III dual credit course.

The Google certificate is an industry-recognized certification that is highly regarded by employers, but to bring it to fruition at campuses, instructors at colleges have to integrate the content into courses already in place as well as develop completely new courses around the Google content.

“Stanford is a first-tier university in the United States, and we have been talking to them for almost a year now. Now they are telling us that they are looking to utilize our ideas to try and implement their certificate. It’s an absolute honor,” said Saeed Molki, program chair of STC’s Computer Science Department. “They know that it adds value to their overall program. Not only are students getting a degree, but they’re also getting industry-recognized credentials and they’re interested in that as well.”

Other institutions are also starting to take notice.

Recently, STC has begun early talks with high level administrators with Kentucky State University to initiate the development of a proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) focused on developing pathways towards higher-level degrees in Computer Science.

“We are becoming very well-known across the nation to begin with. Other institutions want to know how we implement this certificate by Google, so we attend conferences and presentations across the nation to highlight the work our program is doing,” Molki said. “The fact that we have already been so successful…other schools are seeing how successful we have been, and they want to implement the same thing because they know that if we can do it, they can do it as well.”

CIT currently has eight courses that enable students to earn a variety of certifications from Google including the Google Automation with Python Professional Certificate, IT Support Professional Certificate, Data Analytics Professional Certificate, Cybersecurity Professional Certificate, Advanced Data Analytics Professional Certificate and Google UX Design Professional Certificate.

CIT also offers certificates from Amazon Web Services (AWS) including an AWS Academy Machine Learning Foundations Certificate, Certified Cloud Practitioner Certificate and AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Certification.

STC’s success offering the Google certificate involves having students earn the credential within a 16-week course, according to Computer and Information Technology Instructor, Nicholas Hinojosa. “

“They (Stanford) basically wanted to know how are we getting the students to do both the coursework required in the class and also work on the certificate at the same time so we showed them how we merge the two together along with our grading policies and how we motivate students to try and finish in one semester,” Hinojosa said. “It’s an honor to have a prestigious institution like Stanford use our program as an example to help other colleges.”