Austin Community College is working with Army Futures Command to launch a software incubator at the district’s Rio Grande campus in downtown Austin in January.

According to a Sept. 17 announcement by ACC, The Software Factory at ACC will serve as a training pipeline for soldiers and ACC students, providing opportunities to develop and learn software that could be used by soldiers in the future. The goal is to develop two- and four-year degree tracks while connecting soldiers and students with tech industry partners, according to ACC. It will also be the first soldier-led software factory for the Army.

The program will have a 26,500-square-foot space at the Rio Grande campus and will include shared spaced for both Army Futures and ACC students.

Sue Goodyear, Army Futures Command’s executive deputy to the commanding general, said the Army is looking forward to having soldiers who are well trained in modern technologies and software development and to help soldiers develop critical skills.

“One of our biggest goals is to get soldiers out in the field with amazing skillsets in software development to be able to be responsive on the future battlefields,” Goodyear said in an interview with Community Impact Newspaper. “Even if it's not war-fighting functions, it could be just supply chain management, logistics, something that the corporate world also sees. We hope the partnership will bring that technology and that knowledge to our soldiers.”

ACC Chancellor Richard Rhodes said ACC has been speaking with Army Futures about opportunities to work together since the division arrived in Austin in 2018. When the software incubator came up, he said it was a perfect fit considering ACC's history collaborating with local partners, innovating in education and the district’s other incubator programs.

“We already have two very successful incubators, the Bio Science Incubator and our Fashion Incubator. So we're in that loop [already] of innovation, collaboration and transformation,” Rhodes said.

For now, the program will start with 30 people. Goodyear said there is potential to add additional teams as projects come up, and in the future it could grow to about 200 people as the program matures.

Army Futures Command initially announced July 14 that it would bring a new software factory to Austin in 2021 with a focus on solving Army problems with cloud technology and modern software.