University of Idaho - I Banner
A student works at a computer


U of I's web-based retention and advising tool provides an efficient way to guide and support students on their road to graduation. Login to VandalStar.

Forces Combine Between NIC, U of I Computer Science Programs

Vandal Doctoral Students to Give Supervised Instruction in NIC Courses

Doctoral students from University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene will now be able to give supervised instruction to North Idaho College students in associate-level computer science courses offered at the NIC campus.

U of I and NIC are partnering in the “North Idaho Fellowship for Excellence in Computer Science and Robotics Engineering” agreement, and U of I Coeur d’Alene Center Executive Officer Andrew Fields said the agreement benefits all involved.

“This partnership is a win-win because not only do our doctoral students get valuable supervised teaching experience, but NIC students get access to computer science instructors that are otherwise unavailable in today’s local market,” Fields said.

Fellows will be selected and supervised by U of I computer science faculty, and NIC and U of I will collaborate on curriculum and instructional delivery for the courses. The partnership is set to begin in the Fall 2024 semester and continue for four years.

All courses offered through the fellowship are associate-degree level courses that NIC currently offers; however, faculty shortages have stalled enrollment in computer science courses, which include computer organization and assembly language, programming language, computer operating systems and system software.

U of I’s Dean of Engineering Suzanna Long said bringing undergraduate and graduate students together can forge an important and impactful connection.

A young man in an Idaho baseball cap smiles for a photo in a robotics classroom.
Dan Blanchette is a North Idaho College graduate pursuing his bachelor’s degree through University of Idaho’s computer science program. A new partnership between NIC and U of I will allow computer science students to earn any computer science degree from an associate degree to a doctorate degree in the Coeur d’Alene-based programs.

“Supervised teaching experiences will provide these fellows with amazing opportunities to share their passion for computer science with a rising audience of undergraduate students and may help the fellows find their career path,” Long said.

The fellowship agreement will strengthen and streamline pathways for local computer science students by enabling them to pursue each academic degree level at the NIC campus in downtown Coeur d’Alene. Students can achieve any computer science degree they desire — from an associate degree to a doctorate — without leaving Coeur d’Alene.

This partnership is a win-win because not only do our doctoral students get valuable supervised teaching experience, but NIC students get access to computer science instructors that are otherwise unavailable in today’s local market. Andrew Fields, Ed.D., U of I Coeur d’Alene CEO

Dan Blanchette could be one of those students. Blanchette is an NIC alumnus and a current undergraduate student at U of I Coeur d’Alene. He’s on track to complete his bachelor’s degree in computer science this spring and has plans to continue with the Coeur d’Alene program to earn his master’s degree — an opportunity he considers “unreal.”

“The partnership between NIC and U of I allows me to get the high-quality education I want and need to succeed without leaving my family or home, which also saves me the cost of commuting to Moscow from Coeur d’Alene,” Blanchette said. “As both an NIC student and a U of I Coeur d’Alene student, convenient access to computer science resources, peer study groups and knowledgeable faculty near NIC’s lakeside campus enhanced my experience, and this fellowship can make this experience even more fulfilling for all computer science students in Coeur d’Alene, no matter their degree level.”

The Hedlund Building on NIC’s campus is home to both the NIC’s computer science program and U of I Coeur d’Alene’s computer science program, which is a program within the university’s College of Engineering. U of I’s Center for Intelligent Industrial Robotics is also based out of the Vandal computer science program housed in the Hedlund Building on NIC’s campus.

Andrew R. Fields

Center Executive Officer

Andrew Fields

Harbor Center


Growing the computer science workforce is a priority throughout Idaho’s government, higher education and industry circles. In response to requests and concerns from industry leaders and legislators, the Idaho State Board of Education released the results of a state-wide study that identified a current undersupply of engineering and computer science graduates and potential future supply constraints.

Through employer surveys and data from Idaho colleges and universities, the report found a gap between supply and demand for computer science professionals in Idaho. For the state’s estimated 1,300 graduates, Idaho employers offered nearly 2,000 jobs in 2023.

However, the study also found that computer science grads tend to permanently stay in Idaho at relatively high rates — more than 70% of in-state bachelor’s graduates are employed in the state after graduation, and improvements to college participation rates “have the potential to drive more students into these fields of interest,” the report states.

“This partnership is important for U of I and NIC to help meet the needs of a rapidly growing industry in a rapidly growing state,” Fields said. “It’s a good investment for both higher education and the industry throughout Idaho and the nation, and the benefits to computer science students in Coeur d’Alene cannot be overstated.”

Campus Locations

Physical Address:
Bruce M. Pitman Center
875 Perimeter Drive MS 4264
Moscow, ID 83844-4264

Phone: 208-885-6111

Fax: 208-885-9119