BMCC Receives NSF Grant to Develop Mobile App Programming Job Pipeline

L-R, CIS Professor Ching-Song Wei, (standing) Tamer Avcilar and Hao Tang with student.

October 19, 2022

A group of Borough Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) professors have received a $615,608 Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to strengthen the New York City region’s secure mobile programming workforce, while guiding women and minority students into high-quality-careers.

Computer Information Systems (CIS) Professor Tamer Avcilar is serving as Principal Investigator (PI), while professors Ching-Song Wei, Hao Tang and Maryam Vatankhah are co-PI’s on this three-year project.

The PI’s are training BMCC CIS faculty and developing academic courses that will provide students with technical skills in advanced mobile app programming and development.  Classes are set to begin in the Fall 2023 semester.  BMCC will also partner with Manhattan Bridges High School to introduce students to the new program and mobile app development.

BMCC is establishing this pipeline program for historically underrepresented current as well as aspiring college students so they can gain the necessary technical skills to pursue careers in the field of advanced mobile programming with an emphasis on secure coding and cybersecurity.

The goal is for students to be job-ready for mobile app programming positions upon graduation from BMCC.

The BMCC program will help New York City meet the rapidly growing demand for skilled and diverse workers in the local tech sector.  Between 2016 and 2021, the city saw tech sector job growth of 33.6%   according to an October 12 report from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Demand for smartphone app developers nearly quadrupled during that same period, according to the report.

“We have identified a growing need among New York City companies for mobile application developers,” said Avcilar.  “For example, there are many companies, such as the car-sharing service Uber, that almost exclusively operate through smart phones. And, there are many newer companies in New York City that are interested in offering their services, products or information through a mobile app as well.”

Five companies—Cognizant, The Knox Corps, Solidea, LarrosaTek and HealthFirst—have stepped up and offered to send representatives to function as an advisory Committee for the BMCC program. They will meet with the program’s stake holders and keep them up to date with changing industry expectations for a job candidate’s skill set.

“We’ll be meeting with them each semester, and they’ll help guide us in regard to what we should be teaching our students and what skills they expect from our graduates,” said Avcilar. “Together with these partners, we’ll work to foster diversity, inclusion, and excellence for our region’s next generation advanced technology workforce.”

Avcilar hopes graduates from the program will be eligible for entry level programmer jobs that have average starting salaries between $60,000 and $80,000 annually.

In 2016, BMCC received another ATE grant from NSF that led to the creation of a cybersecurity concentration within the college’s CIS and Computer Network Technology degree programs.  That program has seen significant success with a large number of students now concentrating in cybersecurity, according to Avcilar.

“We have an example ahead of us that has been very successful, “said Avcilar. “We are hoping mobile app development will achieve similar success. There is a significant need for programmers who will create these smart phone apps.  The world is changing, it is becoming a world where we do almost everything through our smart phones.”

Avcilar and his team plan to share findings and project results with other community college faculty and leaders at technical colloquia and seminars, Advanced Technology Education conferences and other networking platforms.

So far in 2022, BMCC has received four NSF grants totaling more than $828,000 according to the office of Sponsored Programs.

Development of a mobile app programming job pipeline in BMCC’s Computer Information Systems program supports the BMCC Strategic Plan including Strategic Goal 3: Integrate Career Development Throughout the Student Experience.

  • Team expects students will be job ready for mobile app programmer positions upon graduation from BMCC program
  • Program seeks to navigate women and minority students into mobile app programmer careers
  • NYC saw tech sector job growth of more than 33% between 2016 and 2021

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