MassMutual Foundation Gives $15 Million for Computer Science Ed

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

The Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (known commonly as MassMutual) has announced that its MassMutual Foundation will be donating a total of $15 million to the University of Massachusetts' computer science programs over the course of the next decade.

Out of the $15 million total, $12 million will be donated to the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Center for Data Science, and $3 million will go towards a cyber-security program at the university's center in Tower Square.

The $12 million going towards the Center for Data Science will be used for new faculty hiring, increasing the number of available courses, and expanding the master's degree program.

The cyber-security program is an 8-week, 15-credit-hour program at Tower Square in Springfield, which is owned by MassMutual. It's starting off with only eight students who range from undergraduate students and graduate students through working professionals.

Nicholas A. Fyntrilakis, MassMutual's vice president of community responsibility and the president of the MassMutual Foundation, outlined the grant at a briefing at the UMass Center. During his talk he said:

The implementation of new technologies across all industries is occurring at an extremely rapid pace, driving demand for scientists skilled in analyzing data and protecting digital information. The MassMutual Foundation is making this gift to take these leading data science and cybersecurity research centers to the next level, and to ensure that both the Pioneer Valley and the Commonwealth will be at the forefront of these emerging areas and a top destination for these important disciplines.

Last year, MassMutual established a big-data analytics unit in Amherst, which was designed to improve their collaboration with UMass. MassMutual also donated $2 million to Smith College and Mount Holyoke College to help them develop their own data science classes.

The company's goal is to provide a total of $100 million in donations over the next five years. In the past decade, they have given back nearly $80 million to the communities of their employees. According to the company's website, their charitable efforts include increasing economic opportunity in the communities where their employees live, a middle and high school financial education program to help young people create successful careers, connecting students with scholarships and internships, environmental preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and providing "LifeBridge" life insurance policies.

UMass plans to work together with MassMutual as it does with its other corporate partners, but the company will not review research or direct academic efforts, reports Jim Kinney of Mass Live.

There are 9,000 unfilled cyber-security jobs in Massachusetts, and experts estimate that more than 100,000 data science jobs will be available in the state within the next few years.

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