Starting in spring 2015, Fresno State students will be able to enroll in technology education courses held in Downtown Fresno through a new program partnered with Bitwise Industries.
The courses will be held at Bitwise South Stadium, a 52,000-square-foot building on the corner of Van Ness Avenue and Mono Street near Fulton Mall that will house classrooms, a 10,000-square-foot technology education center, gym, theater and technology firms when it completes renovations early next year.
The courses and workshops will be held through Fresno State’s Division of Continuing and Global Education, which offers extension programs such as study abroad and professional development courses. Dr. Scott Moore, dean of Continuing and Global Education, said specifics on the course and workshop offerings will be released in the coming months.
“Initially, course offerings will be geared toward working professionals at Bitwise and in the Downtown area,” Moore said in an email, “and courses will award Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Unlike traditional academic units, which are used to signify progress toward degree completion, CEUs are used to signify professional development and ongoing career education.”
Bitwise consists of four separate sectors: Hashtag, Shift3 Technologies, the Bitwise Mural District and Geekwise Academy. Hashtag, 24-hour workspaces for rent, is located in the Tower District. Shift3 Technologies, which builds software and technology for local companies, and Geekwise Academy, which offers accelerated courses in coding, are housed in the 8,000-square-foot Bitwise Mural District along with 28 technology firms.
Jake Soberal, CEO of Bitwise, said the partnership would be beneficial for students looking to learn the intricacies of coding languages in a collaborative environment that features several local tech professionals and companies.
The courses will be exclusive from what Fresno State already offers and will be taught at Geekwise Academy, which will move to the Bitwise South Stadium in the spring, Soberal said. He described the Geekwise Academy course curriculum as “more practical, lab-based,” and said many current students and graduates have completed courses at the academy.
“You won’t find another university with a presence in a global tech hub in any place,” Soberal said.
The addition of the South Stadium signifies a growing tech community in Fresno, Soberal said, adding the university is “essential” to future growth.
Bitwise was established last summer in underused and underdeveloped Downtown Fresno. Soberal hopes Fresno develops a technological presence that rivals Silicon Valley’s.
“We hope that Downtown revitalization is a natural consequence of the things we’re doing,” he added.
Fresno State President Joseph Castro first made the announcement of the collaboration in his Fall Assembly address to staff and faculty on Aug. 18. He described it as a “strategic partnership.”
“This self-support initiative will expand access to Fresno State, and it acknowledges our shared responsibility in the revitalization of Downtown Fresno,” Castro said.
Talks between the university and Bitwise began early this year, Moore said.
“The goal of the program is to establish a self-sustaining, high-impact slate of courses, workshops and programs that serve Fresno State students and the Downtown workforce. The agreement is funded entirely by self-support funds. No state money is being spent on these Downtown programs.”