Google and IBM are partnering on an effort to help students get to grips with net-scale computing projects.
Google and many other net firms trawl data to back up web services
The two firms will build data centres holding 1,600 computers that students will be able to use to learn the basics of so-called "cloud computing".
This harnesses huge data libraries, thousands of processors and complex algorithms to carry out research or to back up net-based services.
The companies have put $30m (£14.69m) behind the project.
The project aims to improve the technical training that universities offer to computer science students so they become familiar with the approaches they will find increasingly being used in the workplace.
The sheer size of the computational resources involved in carrying out "cloud computing" projects mean few educational establishments can afford to run them alone.
IBM has experience of running large projects to analyse data for trends and customise strategies for corporate clients. Google uses its data centres to plumb data for trends and to underpin its broad array of net services.
Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google, said in a statement: "In order to most effectively serve the long-term interests of our users, it is imperative that students are adequately equipped to harness the potential of modern computing systems and for researchers to be able to innovate ways to address emerging problems."
Under the initiative the two organisations will commit hardware and a series of programming tools based around open source software to give students a taste of what "cloud computing" involves.
Six US universities have signed up for the initiative: Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Maryland and the University of Washington.
"We're aiming to train tomorrow's programmers to write software than can support a tidal wave of global web growth and trillions of secure transactions every day, " said Sam Palmisano, IBM chief executive, in a statement.