Strategic partnerships help fuel workforce readiness for ASU students

Two Class of 2023 students illustrate the benefits of university partnerships with leading technology companies

Spring ASU graduates Sushmitha Reddy (left) and Aira Daniella San Agustin worked directly with technology organizations while earning their degrees, thanks to Enterprise Technology partnerships. Photo by Mike Sanchez/ASU Enterprise Technology


As about 20,000 spring Arizona State University graduates consider their next steps, many will be joining the workforce. 

One way ASU graduates are prepared is through strategic partnerships with industry giants.

With support from Enterprise Technology, partnerships with leading technology organizations — like Zoom, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Verizon and Cox — create real-world work projects and provide skills and internship experiences. These opportunities are key, as jobs in technology are projected to grow at nearly twice the national jobs rate over the next decade. 

Meet two Class of 2023 students who illustrate the benefits of university partnerships with these companies.

Sushmitha Reddy

Two years ago, Sushmitha Reddy took her first walk on the Tempe campus, joining the Sun Devil community as a graduate student studying information technology at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. With a goal to become a software engineer, Reddy also wanted to explore work options to complement her studies. 

She joined the ASU Smart City Cloud Innovation Center, powered by AWS in fall 2022. Known as “the CIC” around campus, the team of ASU students and AWS employees leverage Amazon’s innovation processes, cloud expertise and global solution platforms to solve pressing community and regional challenges — with students driving projects forward. 

Alongside a team of student workers, Reddy had the chance to work on projects with local organizations. For example, building off a project underway with the Phoenix Police Department, Reddy helped apply smart technology solutions in machine learning to determine greater gunshot detection. Taking lessons from the classroom, Reddy applied her classroom knowledge in her role at the CIC as a cloud developer tasked with managing the backend architecture in AWS cloud storage for machine learning models. 

“Sushmitha brought a willingness to learn and to apply her classroom knowledge to her projects at the CIC,” said Ryan Hendrix, general manager of the CIC. “We appreciate the contributions of students like Sushmitha, who go above and beyond to apply Amazon best practices to address local challenges using technology and collaboration.”

Reddy said she recognizes that the technical and communication skills, as well as the confidence she's gained during her experience at the CIC, are desirable to future employers.

“My entire resume is filled with job experience and projects from the CIC,” Reddy said. 

Just this week, Reddy walked the graduation stage, with her degree and two job offers in hand.

Aira Daniella San Agustin

Aira Daniella San Agustin is a fellow student at the Fulton Schools. Majoring in computer science, San Agustin is part of ASU’s Accelerated Program (4+1), earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in under five years. Her planned graduation date is in December.

Like Reddy, San Agustin wanted to take advantage of the employment opportunities and joined Learning Futures — part of Enterprise Technology —  in summer 2021. She was looking to gain experience in coding and immersive technologies.

In fall 2022, the university announced a first-of-its kind partnership with Zoom. The Zoom Innovation Lab at ASU is a five-year strategic pairing combining resources available across the university — including expertise, research, networks and learning assets — with Zoom’s technology and talent to create solutions that better connect society. 

At the lab's launch, projects were already underway across campus. One solution included the development of the ASUniverse, a digital replica of the Tempe campus that brings ASU into the metaverse. Tasked with bringing Zoom functionality into the ASUniverse, San Agustin and teammate Delena Hoang took on the challenge. 

As creative developers, both San Agustin and Hoang began exploring the integration of Zoom’s collaboration tool with Unity, the game engine powering the university’s digital twin. They closely reviewed technical documentation made available to them by Zoom, and brought Zoom functions — like joining a meeting or toggling a video on/off — into the Unity environment. 

San Agustin noted she gained new skills, like translating code languages, that built off her classroom knowledge.

“We worked directly with Zoom developers to understand how we could leverage existing wrappers to translate C++ into C-Sharp,” San Agustin This was required to bring Zoom’s software development kit, written in C++, into Unity’s code base, written in C-Sharp. 

Integrating Zoom into Unity was just the start. A few weeks after the project concluded, a group of ASU students participated in a hackathon, where they explored real-world use cases of Zoom in the metaverse. To do so, they used the Zoom and Unity integration, as well as the technical documentation San Agustin and her teammate created. 

San Agustin is currently working at the Meteor Studio at ASU and will intern this summer for a leading web hosting company. 

Fueling innovation and workforce readiness

The 56% of students who complete an internship in the U.S. accept full-time job offers after they graduate. That’s a compelling statistic for students looking to transition to the workforce. 

Companies also benefit from working with students and learners, who bring extensive education and experience to bring valuable perspective and knowledge to projects and initiatives. 

“When developing these strategic partnerships, ASU students are central to our decision making,” said Lev Gonick, ASU’s chief information officer and executive sponsor for partnerships at Enterprise Technology. “We value our partnerships with top-performing technology companies to give our students the chance to collaborate with and learn from the best in the field, and to make sure that our partners are able to gain knowledge and inspiration from today’s forward-thinking learners.

"It’s exciting to provide these work opportunities to future technologists who will go on to advance technology across the globe for years to come.”

Written by Stephanie King

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