Important COBOL Programming Course Offered at A&M International

The approach of the predicted Y2K computer problem has brought an unusual side-effect: there's an international need for programmers fluent in the COBOL programming language.

In response to this pressing need, Texas A&M International University's College of Business Administration will offer an intermediate level COBOL course this Fall.

The course, CIS 4399, will be offered from 11:00 - 12:15 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Dr. Stephen Lunce, Associate Professor of Information Systems at A&M International, said recent studies have shown an abundance of computer code written in COBOL, and employment opportunities for COBOL programmers are especially bright.

"The Gartner Group, a research group, has found that there are over 90 billion lines of main-frame COBOL program source code in use around the world in 1999. This represents a rare opportunity for COBOL programmers to provide much-needed assistance. A recent article in Computer Reseller News suggests that COBOL programmers can earn as much as $100,000 per year for four or five years after January 1, 2000, repairing the problems encoded under the pressure of fixing the Y2K problem," Dr. Lunce said.

Lunce said that although many view COBOL as a 'back office' environment used to build financial reporting systems and maintain legacy systems, it is a major programming language and is now considered the leading tool to help companies merge into electronic business environments.

"According to the Butler Group research, COBOL will play a major role in allowing companies to migrate their applications into an e business environment. Butler says the alternative is too awful to contemplate. Rewriting applications in Java, another programming language, may give purists a feeling of euphoria, but in reality no one is doing this, " Lunce said.

He noted that the primary COBOL software that will be taught in CIS 4399 will be Micro-Focus (now Merant), which is growing in use by 40% per year.

Lunce said he is aware of local and regional companies who are looking for A&M International graduates with CIS degrees and COBOL experience.

"One insurance company is planning to hire 300 COBOL programmers a year until 2003 for its information systems group which is headquartered in San Antonio. The average starting salary for this company for COBOL programmers is in the high $30's," he said.

Jesus Carmona, who holds a Master of Science in Information Science, will lead the CIS 4399 course. He has been a member of the University's faculty since 1997.

For additional information, contact the Office of Admissions at 326.2200.

Registration for the Fall semester is Aug. 23-24 from 1-7 p.m. And from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. respectively. Classes begin Aug. 25. Late registration, with a late fee applied, continues through Sept. 3.

University office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at