CU-Boulder, Sun Microsystems Form Educational Partnership

Published: May 7, 2000

The University of Colorado at Boulder and Sun Microsystems have signed an agreement for a pilot program that initially will allow applied mathematics and computer science students at CU to become Sun Microsystems Certified Instructors.

The CU students -- both undergraduate and graduate -- will be intensively trained for several weeks at Sun’s Broomfield facility in computer language programming, primarily JAVA, said applied mathematics Professor James Curry. The students will then take a certification exam, which, if they pass, will allow them to teach Sun courses using Sun educational materials.

"This is a win-win situation for CU and for Sun Microsystems," said Curry, who spearheaded the effort to form the partnership. "We will have access to the tremendous educational facility created by Sun in Broomfield, which is interested in developing new outlets for its educational materials. And Sun employees will have a chance to work with and get to know some of our extremely talented students."

The agreement also will allow CU-Boulder to offer coursework leading to Sun certification as part of its curricula, giving graduating students the advantage of being Sun Microsystems Certified Instructors as they venture into the workforce, said Curry. Curry also is associate chair of the applied mathematics department.

CU-Boulder Chancellor Richard L. Byyny said he is delighted with the partnership. "Sun Microsystems has a tremendous educational facility that they have invested millions of dollars in that is just down the road from CU-Boulder," he said. "It makes perfect sense for our campus to join forces with Sun as a way to benefit both higher education and the high-tech industry in Colorado."

Curry first approached the Sun Microsystems Broomfield facility in 1998, working with Sun administrators to set up internships for several undergraduates. "But I felt we should try to incorporate a closer, more long-term partnership that would allow our undergraduates and graduate students to obtain certification in computer languages," he said.

The CU/Sun curricula focuses primarily on JAVA, an object-oriented programming language developed by Sun. Unlike page-description computer languages like HTML, programming languages like JAVA describe a process for generating a result.

"JAVA is one of the hottest and most exciting programming languages right now," said Curry. JAVA can be used on a wide variety of computer platforms and was designed to make it easier to write device-independent software.

CU-Boulder’s applied mathematics department is planning on offering an intensive course on JAVA 1 and JAVA 2 using Sun Microsystems educational materials during the school’s "Maymester," which runs from May 15 to June 2. The department also will offer courses in JAVA 2 during the two concurrent summer school sessions in 2000.

If things go well, two JAVA courses will be added to the applied math curriculum beginning with the fall 2000 semester, said Curry.

"Since we are a mathematical sciences department, we plan to incorporate the use of mathematical algorithms in these courses," he said. Algorithms are predetermined sets of instructions for solving a specific problem in a limited number of steps.

Staff members in the computer science department in engineering are exploring a new course using Sun’s Solaris operating system, said Curry. CU students would take intensive courses in Solaris at Sun and become certified instructors, allowing them to teach courses after passing the certification test.

"These kinds of university-industry partnerships are becoming more important as we enter the 21st century," said Byyny. "We feel fortunate to have corporations like Sun Microsystems that recognize the value of such partnerships and the benefits they bring to everyone involved."