Naples University 'all in' on Apple Developer Academy

Federico II University of Naples

NAPLES — American colossal Apple has sealed an agreement with University Federico II in a new partnership for the creation of Europe’s first ever iOS Developer Academy.

 Located in San Giovanni a Teaduccio in Naples province at the ex-Cirio factory, the academy will be, under the accord signed July 6, the newest addition to a campus entirely dedicated to engineering technologies. The premises will host the teaching and laboratory facilities where hundreds of students will get the practical skills and hands-on training in developing apps for the world’s most innovative and vibrant app ecosystem.

 As part of its commitment, the university has agreed to offer rooms, equipment and laboratories, with Internet access and audio/video systems, technical assistance and maintenance with technological updates. 

 Renovation of the third floor of the Engineering Department is already underway with an estimated 6 million Euro project necessary for the adaptation of facilities required by Apple.

 Initially, 200,000 euros will cover the immediate needs for the programme to start on schedule this autumn while the upper floor concentrates on the more serious structural adaptation for the following year.

 In an interview with the Italian Insider, the Chancellor of Federico II, Dr Gaetano Manfredi, spoke about the partnership.

 Italian Insider The plan to create a specialised iOS Developer Academy in Naples, Italy, was announced in January by Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, and Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi to help boost the number of trained app developers in Italy and Europe. This is the first time Apple has invested in Italy for such an academy. Why choose Naples for a pioneer investment of this magnitude?

 Chancellor - This partnership is indeed the first of its kind in Europe and there is a lot riding on it. Apple scouted us out after a blind investigation on possible partners throughout the nation. They chose Federico II in part because of our track record in both scientific and humanistic faculties. On the average, we grant degrees to around 650 graduates per year. Undoubtedly, the technical giant has betted a lot on us. Choosing us demonstrates this university is capable of being one of the big world players.

 Italian Insider – Was it easy to come to an agreement? How much has Apple invested in this partnership?

 Chancellor - Months of intense bargaining ensued before coming to the final partnership sealed last month. In the final contract made with the American colossal, they agreed to invest 6 million Euros for the following three years in an Academy, with the option of automatic renewal that would make the academy permanent.

 Italian Insider – And Federico II?

 Chancellor – We have seen their investment with other 6 million Euros. In a commitment spread out over the next three years, Apple is going to cover the costs for resources destined to 15 professor salaries and student scholarships equalling 800 Euros per month for those who participate in App developer training courses on the iOS platform. 

 Italian Insider – According to calculations, this means only a meagre 5 percent of academy students will have access to coverage. Sources say that Regione Campania was thinking about chipping in as well after allegedly declaring the high economic and social impact of such an extraordinary opportunity. Has the Regione committed in writing to being dealt a hand in this game?

 Chancellor – Yes, they have. Regione Campania has already formalised the deliberation of funds to cover another 50 percent, meaning that 55 percent of attending pupils will receive scholarships.

 Italian Insider – As per the university press release, students will take part in a nine-month curriculum designed and supported by Apple. During the first semester, courses will enhance and improve students’ software development skills on iOS; during the second semester, students will attend courses on the creation of start-ups and app design and collaborate on the design of apps that could eventually make it onto the App Store. This marks a revolutionary teaching method Italy has never used. You mentioned the need for 15 teachers. Will they presumably come from abroad where institutions are already used to a hands-on approach?

 Chancellor – Although academy teachers will attend a training course, there will be two focus areas: one on computers and the other on design with attention placed on business. Naturally, the first flexible work cycle will be comprised of a high percentage of international human resources. Learning and applying his new teaching method, as you rightly call it, is one of our objectives. It is time Italy weighs itself up against this applied teaching method and sees how it measures up. 

 Italian Insider – Whom is this academy going to be designed for graduates or undergraduates?

 Chancellor – The iOS Developer Academy is designed for those fresh out of superior schools or for those already attending university who wish to complement their studies. An international call is now open and available to everyone who fits the criteria. There is equally an entry test that will help us narrow down qualified candidates.

 Italian Insider - So, it’s safe to say that this opportunity comes  too late for the much talked about “fleeing southern intelligence” (cervelli in fuga) who have felt forced to run away these last years from the dearth of career and research possibilities available to them in the south of Italy.

 Chancellor – As Chancellor of this university, one of my even broader goals is to give renewed attention to this territory that has been suffering for too long now. Our plan is to make our historically top-ranked departments, highly competitive on an international level again. We have had a longstanding reputation of excellence in scientific, engineering, architecture and humanities fields. My idea is to take advantage of our huge patrimony and create attractive opportunities that dissuade intelligent minds from leaving.  

 Italian Insider – The academy will be located together with engineering studies already present on campus. Choosing an area like San Giovanni a Teduccio known for its difficult context, social discord and all around tough part of town has been criticised by many as a deterrent. Why did you discard the originally identified ex-NATO base now virtually vacant, considering its proximity to the Engineering Department in Fuorigrotta?

 Chancellor – True, it was a good location for us. There were however some insurmountable issues surrounding the work to be done on the existing facilities. The academy would have needed much more time and financing for the required reconstruction. We are very pleased with our decision. Designed by Japanese architect Ishimoto, the modern campus in San Giovanni a Teduccio will include student housing and top-notch facilities. The campus is right near the metro station; it is only two stops from the central train station and, with a transfer onto the new metro line, two other stops from the heart of Federico II in the centre of town. With this modern project, we are creating a real technological ecosystem for our new campus.

 Italian Insider – At what point is the work? Will it be ready by the fall?

 Chancellor – In record time, the 5-month construction site will deliver the academy ready to run at half steam by the 20th of October and, with 100% of the reconstruction/adaptation completed by April 2017, at full regime by the start of 2017/2018 academic year. 

 Italian Insider – Clearly, you are betting on the iOS Developer Academy’s success. With your university “all in” on this big hand, what is your personal aspiration for this partnership?

 Chancellor – That this university becomes known as the ‘capital of innovation’

 Italian Insider - With a name like Apple backing the partnership and much of the footwork well underway, what could go awray?

 Chancellor - The success of the programme and contract renewal with Apple to create a permanent academy will depend on the student body and how they will respond to it. The idea of attending an academy backed by such a big name in the technological field attracts young adults from all over. The key will be to see their reaction to this kind of new teaching method; positive and negative feedback will be evident in the numbers of enrolees for the academic years to come. I’m nonetheless confident betting so highly on this partnership will pay off for the south."

 With 2 million apps, the App Store has created an entirely new industry with over 1.2 million jobs across Europe and nearly 10 billion euros has been paid to developers for selling their apps around the world. The iOS Developer Academy will help students play their part in this revolution.

 Dr. Gaetano Manfredi was born in Ottaviano in Naples province in 1964. He received his undergraduate degree and Ph.d. in Engineering from Federico II. Nominated Chancellor in November 2014, he is the youngest to have ever occupied the post at an Italian University. He is the President of CRUI.

Dr Gaetano Manfredi, Chancellor of Federico II University