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College of Continuing Education News

Big Data; Big Leaders

Information Technology Infrastructure Program prepares graduates to take on big roles in Big Data--and beyond.

The College of Continuing Education (CCE) is host to several applied bachelor's degrees that allow students to bring their work experience to the classroom. Each of these degrees is designed by a team of university staff and industry experts with the adult professional in mind.

tim iti.jpg"The B.A.S. degrees fit well into CCE's suite of programs," says Michelle Koker, the College's director of undergraduate degree programs, "because they provide adults a flexible way to get the communications, business, and technical skills they need to move into higher positions in their industry, or move to a new field altogether."

The Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Technology Infrastructure (ITI) is one of those distinctive, interdisciplinary degrees.

The ITI degree is unlike any computer science program currently being offered at the University. It bridges the gap between critical business knowledge and the technical abilities needed in today's economy.

That gap, says Josh Dyba, a program alum and current degree advisory board member, falls between the individuals who know how to do the work and the individuals who decide what work needs to be done. "You have two sides," he explains, "the technical people, who say 'How are we going to make X, Y, or Z systems or hardware do something?' and the business management people, who say, 'What are our company's big picture goals? How can we leverage technology to achieve them?' The ITI degree prepares students to work with both sides of the table and get them to work together efficiently."

Another unique feature of the program is the students' ability to take electives based on their particular career goals or interests. For example, a student with a specific interest in networks or security would be able to take courses in those areas. The curriculum structure, says ITI faculty director Anil Sangam, offers a baseline foundation of technology that allows students to pursue a more specialized degree through electives.

Currently, the program offers courses in IT systems (with a focus on infrastructure), business management and finance, and communication. Electives are also available in quality management, networking, data security, and storage design. Many courses are offered evenings and online for maximum flexibility.

ITI degree students also benefit from a faculty composed of professionals who are active in the industry and are mindful of the market's needs. The result is a relevant, innovative program that is responsive to business and technology trends.

A case in point are the proposed new course offerings in "big data," which Sangam believes are a great example of the program's current and timely nature. "A lot of the technology pundits believe that it [big data] is going to shape the industry in the next few years or so... Not many universities are even thinking of bringing big data in [to course lists]. We are in the forefront of that market."

It's not just the faculty who are fully invested in the success of the students. The ITI program staff and advisory board are continually reviewing processes and degree requirements. Concludes Dyba, "We want to graduate folks who are the stars of the workplace...people who can come in and know not just the hardware and tech systems and talk to the IT folks on their level, but who can also look at a flowchart and point out gaps in process or procedures or write effective business proposals or other communications.

"We want students to come out of this program and be able to hit the ground running--to exceed the expectations of employers."

Interested in learning more about our Bachelor of Applied Science programs? Visit our degree programs page!

Story by Mia Boos

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