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Hispanic IT Students Get Boost From Latin American Grid, IBM Awards

IBM is investing in the Latin American Grid initiative, a cooperative research effort that helps stimulate local economies and prepare students for IT leadership positions. Hispanics currently represent 4% of U.S. computer science graduates.

IBM is investing in the Latin American Grid initiative, a cooperative research effort.

The company announced the plans Friday during a kick-off ceremony at Florida International University. The LA Grid (pronounced lah-grid) will bring together students, faculty and researchers from Latin America, Spain and the United States (including those from IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center) to work on projects for applications in health care, life sciences, nanotechnology and regionally-specific areas like hurricane mitigation.

LA Grid aims to prepare students for leadership in information technology and stimulate local economics by attracting technology businesses and jobs in several regions, including Florida. IBM also announced plans to sponsor internships, mentoring and diversity programs.

Hispanics currently represent 3.9 percent of U.S. computer science graduates with Bachelor of Science degrees, 1.1 percent with Master of Science degrees, and 1.1 percent with Ph.D.s, according to a 2003-2004 Computing Research Association Taulbee Survey.

"FIU is already the largest producer of Hispanic engineers in the U.S. and the LA Grid initiative will further our ability to significantly increase the Hispanic representation in IT at a national scale," Dr. Vish Prasad, Executive Dean of College of Engineering and Computing at FIU said in a prepared statement.

IBM's highly-selective Shared University Research awards are funding the cooperative effort, which includes Florida International University, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, University of Miami, Barcelona Supercomputing Center and Monterrey Tech. The program will expand to include more universities.

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