Photo by Stephen Allen
William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business will provide automation software to 400 incoming students this fall, thanks to a generous commitment of more than $4 million in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology from UiPath. This partnership gives the Mason School the distinction of being the first business school in the country to give a UiPath "robot" to every student.
"This partnership gives William & Mary students a tremendously exciting opportunity: to explore the leading edge of software robotics as they pursue their academic passions. To be able to test out how robotic process automation works in practice — and to be able to think critically about it, in the early stages of the development of this field — will give them a powerful framework for engaging with technology transformation in their future lives as citizens and professionals," said President Katherine Rowe.
The three-year partnership between UiPath, an enterprise software company, and the business school will equip students with RPA technology. RPA is an automation software tool that mimics the way humans interact with digital systems. It is used increasingly in the business world to improve efficiency and reduce costs by digitizing high-volume tasks.
RPA is used across multiple industries, including financial services, healthcare, technology and telecommunications to automate a plethora of business processes — fraud claim discovery, invoice processing, card activation, payroll, job candidate management and much more.
UiPath's generous commitment provides students the opportunity to learn and experiment with the technology, prepares them for a rapidly changing world and creates a community within the Mason School that promotes its use in the classroom and beyond.
“As automation becomes a fixture in business settings, we see it as our responsibility to help tomorrow’s workforce understand how to best use the technology to their personal, and their future employers’, advantage,” said Tom Clancy, senior vice president of UiPath Learning. “We are thrilled to partner with William & Mary to showcase to students what’s possible with RPA and to give them the tools they need to propel better ways of working.”
UiPath’s commitment comes at a pivotal moment in the business world, as RPA continues to change the strategic landscape of companies worldwide. By 2021, Forrester Research, Inc. estimates there will be more than 4 million robots doing office and administrative work as well as sales and related tasks.
“Our partnership with UiPath is giving our students hands-on access to automation as well as adding an additional tool to their portfolios,” said Raymond A. Mason School of Business Dean Larry Pulley ’74. “Mastering RPA will uniquely position our students for success as they enter the workforce, preparing them not only for ‘what’s now’ but also for ‘what’s next.’ We hope to expand this access to more W&M students in the future.”
This fall, all incoming majors and minors of the business school will receive the software during orientation in August. By the 2020-2021 academic year, a total of 800 business students will have a UiPath software robot.
During orientation, there will be a three-hour training session to help students understand how to operate the software. The session will be taught in partnership with UiPath. In addition to the training session, the Mason School will offer a 1-credit course starting this fall for students who elect to expand their use and understanding of the software. The course will incorporate industry examples, speakers and case studies.
The Mason School is also a member of UiPath’s Academic Alliance, which is a community of universities and colleges that have access to RPA curricula and other UiPath technologies, and that can interact with RPA experts.
The business school has also purchased additional software licenses in order to improve processes and efficiency within the school.
As part of the partnership, UiPath has made a commitment to provide 10 paid internships to W&M students in various departments within the company.
Kurt Carlson, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business, said that while the main objective of the partnership is to expose business students to process automation, the ultimate goal is for students to use their innovative and entrepreneurial minds to create business processes that don’t yet exist.
“We don’t want them to simply be experts on how to automate mundane business processes, they are too smart for that,” Carlson said. “We want to introduce our students to how RPA technology works and then turn them loose to see what happens.”