Gannon partnership to help shape I-HACK program


A new partnership was announced Feb. 12 between Gannon University and Extreme Networks, the industry’s first cloud-driven, end-to-end networking company. This will bring new opportunities for students across several programs including health care, criminal justice and environmental science.
The partnership comes in the form of a $12 million agreement that will span a 10-year period in order to create the Extreme Academy, which is intended to train and educate Gannon students and employees through the Extreme Network Certification. The agreement will also provide networking equipment, long-term support and software.
Extreme Networks is a leading provider of wired and wireless networking hardware, cloud services and applications for enterprise and data centers. This area of expertise will be shared with Gannon faculty and students, bringing a new level to Gannon’s cyber programs.
This partnership will embed Extreme Networks’ technical certification and training into the preexisting academic curriculum for undergraduate and graduate engineering and computing programs. This will give students the chance to gain industry certification before they even graduate.
Along with elevating Gannon’s cyber programs, it will also bring new professional training opportunities that will benefit the Erie community and the students.
The Extreme Academy is expected to be opened by spring of 2021, with changes in the curriculum seen as early as the fall semester of 2020.
Changes will also be seen inside the Institute for Health and Cyber Knowledge (I-HACK) building. On the third floor, a regional training center will be established in the Hatchery, a commercial space where students have the opportunity to work with industry professionals.
It will also serve as a training center for businesses in Erie and the surrounding areas of Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
To achieve this, Gannon faculty will become certified Extreme Networks instructors, assisting and leading on-site training.
This relationship is the first of its kind not only for Extreme Networks, but for Gannon as well. It becomes a great opportunity for Gannon, Walter Iwanenko, Ph.D., vice president of academic affairs at Gannon, said.
“This partnership will bring a global company to Erie providing incredible opportunities not only to our students but also the region,” he said. “Our students and businesses will benefit for Extreme’s training, technology, and global connections.”
With all of this, the training students and faculty will receive is valued at thousands of dollars per person, which comes at no additional cost to the students.
Victoria Bartlett, a freshman cybersecurity major, is one of the students who will be benefiting from the opportunity to receive this extra training.
“I will make sure to take all the training courses and get the certification,” she said. “Also, it will provide hands-on experience working with one of the leading companies in this industry.”
She said it will only better her education and make things easier for her once she completes her work at Gannon.
“I will be better prepared when I enter the work force after graduation,” Bartlett said.
This partnership came about with the help of a local company, Network Technologies, which has been in Erie since 1998, Iwanenko said.
Network Technologies helped pave the way for Gannon’s connection with Extreme Networks. Network Technologies will also be aiding in the implementation and maintance of the networking software and hardware.
The programs and expansion will be funded through a series of grants.
The George I. Alden Trust grant, worth $110,000, will be used to create a Geopraphic Information Systems Center for Education and Engagement, which will be located on the third floor of the I-HACK building.
The project has also received several other grants used to improve the building and the programs housed within.