BECU, Australian School In IT Venture

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Boeing Employees' Credit Union and Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia, will launch a joint information technology education program next month.

Two graduate students from Curtin University will work as student interns in BECU's information technology (IT) division each year from January to June, according to Butch Leonardson, vice president of IT for BECU.

In addition to the students journeying from Down Under to the Evergreen State, Leonardson will lecture at Curtin once a year. "I do the same lecture at the University of Washington graduate student program twice a year," he said.

Leonardson met the chairman of Curtin's graduate program for Information Systems Management on an airplane. "We discussed the fact that his students have technical knowledge when they graduate, but have no idea how to lead an IT organization. The professor wanted to add an internship to the curriculum," he recalled.

BECU will pay for the students' travel, room and board in an extended-stay hotel, and will pay them a monthly stipend. As for projected return on investment, Leonardson said it remains to be seen.

"Right now, it is a 'cool idea,' " he observed, adding that BECU, the fourth largest credit union in the nation, has an IT division budget of $20 million per year.

BECU has 320,000 members and $4.5 billion in assets.

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