Two women at sitting at computers.

Strategic partnerships help fuel workforce readiness for ASU students

It’s an exciting time on the Arizona State University (ASU) campus as over 20,000 students have walked the stage to receive degrees this week. And, for the workforce, this means a new cohort of talent will be joining the ranks, bringing new ideas and fresh perspectives.

While promising stats show that jobs in technology are projected to grow nearly twice the national jobs rate over the next decade, it’s no secret these organizations are currently experiencing the same economic uncertainty being felt by the nation. During a time when the industry continues to navigate these complexities, there’s one thing that ASU provides no matter the economic climate — experiences in work and learning that prepare students for the workforce of tomorrow…today.

One way in which ASU infuses these opportunities for its students is through strategic partnerships with industry giants. At the university level under ASU’s Corporate Engagement and Strategic Partnerships these include the Mayo Clinic, Dreamscape Learn and Starbucks. 

With support from Enterprise Technology, partnerships with leading technology organizations — like Zoom, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Verizon and Cox, to name a few — move forward real-world work projects and internship experiences that allows ASU to further equip the next generation of workforce with the right technology, skills and experiences. 

Meet Sushmitha Reddy from ASU’s Class of 2023 

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 Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering. With a goal to become a software engineer, Sushmitha also wanted to explore work options to complement her studies. 


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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 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, Sushmitha had the chance to work on projects with local organizations. For example, building off a project underway with the Phoenix Police Department, Sushmitha worked with a team of fellow student workers to 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 where she was 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, ASU General Manager. “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.”

Sushmitha 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,” said Reddy. 

And, just this week, Sushmitha walked the graduation stage, with her degree and two job offers in hand.

Meet Aira Daniella San Agustin from ASU’s Class of 2023

Aira Daniella San Agustin is a fellow student at the Fulton Schools of Engineering. Majoring in computer science, Aira is part of ASU’s Accelerated Program (4+1) where she will earn both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in under five years — her planned graduation date is December 2023.



Like Sushmitha, Aira wanted to take advantage of the available employment opportunities and joined Learning Futures — part of the team at ASU’s Enterprise Technology — back in summer 2021. She was looking to gain experience in coding and immersive technologies.

In fall 2022, the university also announced a first-of-its kind partnership with Zoom. The Zoom Innovation Lab at ASU is a five-year strategic partnership 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 launch of the Zoom Innovation Lab, 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, Aira and her teammate Delena Hoang took on the challenge. 

As creative developers, both Aira and Delena began exploring the integration of Zoom’s collaboration tool with Unity, the game engine powering the university’s digital twin. In doing so,  the two closely reviewed technical documentation made available to them by Zoom. The end result was bringing Zoom functions — like joining a meeting or toggling a video on/off — into the Unity environment. 

Aira 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,” Aira shared. This was required to bring Zoom’s software development kit (SDK) — 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 for Aira and Delena, 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 Aira and her teammate created. 

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

Partnerships help to fuel innovation and workforce readiness

The majority of students who complete an internship (56%) 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.”

These internships and student work opportunities prepare students for the uncertain job market by allowing them to learn and enhance new skills and product knowledge while gaining the experience of working in a professional office environment. 

Authored by Stephanie King; photos by Mike Sanchez.