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Two information technology companies, Montreal-based CGI, and Enquero, which has its headquarters in Milpitas, Calif., recently announced they will become tenants in University Research Park.
CGI will build a $13.1 million, 50,000-square-foot facility on Cajundome Boulevard. Construction is expected to begin this year and be complete by the end of 2015.
Enquero will open its doors right across the street, at the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise. Its employees could be moving into LITE as early as late August.
CGI and Enquero will each create technology centers to develop new products and approaches in computing.
They will bring high-tech jobs to Acadiana: about 400 at CGI and an expected 350 at Enquero.
Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, UL Lafayette’s vice president for Research, said the University’s graduates in computer science and informatics will be well prepared to compete for those jobs. In computer science, students learn about the theoretical framework of computing and software design. The informatics curriculum is more pragmatic; students learn how to apply software and other tools.
“The University’s graduates are critical thinkers. They’re problem solvers, which is exactly what this rapidly changing industry is looking for.
“Through collaboration with our industry partners, we are making our curricula more attuned to industry needs and providing students opportunities for hands-on training, including internships, to make them highly competitive job seekers when they graduate,” said Kolluru.
“We are listening to industry. We’re not sitting in an ivory tower, thinking that we have all the answers. We’re asking our industry partners, ‘What are your needs and priorities? We’re also asking, ‘What are the tools and technologies you use? What approach are you taking in software development?’ ”
The University will use that feedback to develop courses that are tailored to companies like CGI and Enquero, he continued.
“We’ll create customized degree programs to give our students a competitive edge.”
Some students will become interns. They’ll help CGI and Enquero develop new digital products, such as computer software and applications, and visualization tools.
“The University — students and faculty — will also help the industry unlock the power of big data,” said Kolluru. “That’s what the industry is interested in — how to manage and use massive amounts of real-time data. That’s what’s driving our collaborative research.”
Kolluru said the University will develop and demonstrate digital innovations to public- and private-sector customers it wants to attract, including state and national agencies such as Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency.
CGI’s clients include government organizations, hospitals and healthcare facilities. The company provides technology services, such as software design and systems management, to other industries such as manufacturing and distributing, telecommunications and utilities, and the oil and gas industry. It has 68,000 employees around the world.
Tim Turitto, vice president of CGI, said its partnership with UL Lafayette will increase cooperation between industry and higher education. “University researchers will help us find new solutions to technology problems that can be applied globally.”
Hemant Asher, a founder of Enquero, said its Agile Delivery Center in University Research Park will help the company respond quickly to its clients’ needs.
Enquero, which has 18 employees, has commercial clients in high-tech, manufacturing, retail and financial services industries. “Agility is the key. To be competitive, we must meet our clients’ needs quickly and effectively. And to do that, we have to have the right kind of talent. (Our partnership with) UL Lafayette will help us meet those demands.”
CGI and Enquero chose Lafayette, in part, because of its technology infrastructure. Every home and business in the city has access to a fiber-optic system that provides a high-speed internet connection.
Kolluru said Acadiana’s rich culture was also a draw.
“These companies want to put down roots,” he said, “and there’s no better place in the world to do that.”