End of Semester Wrap Up

There was not a lot of time to blog during the semester, but now that it’s over and final grades have been submitted, I do want point out some of the highlights this semester. Perhaps the biggest milestone is that the first two students have graduated from the new IT program! Obviously I am somewhat biased, but I think both graduates have a very bright future ahead of them. One already found a job, and the other one has been accepted to grad school. Let’s hope many more graduates will follow!

Software is eating the world, and this is unlikely to change any time soon. Therefore, our IT program teaches students to not only use, but also create and develop software throughout the coursework. Before discussing some of the coursework, I would also like to point out that many of our students have obtained paid internship and co-op positions for the summer, which is a good indication that the skills students learn during coursework translates to the workplace!

Here is a list of courses I was involved in this semester with a synopsis of what was covered:

  • In business analytics we used using data and models to give us actionable insights.
  • In data structures we explored and programmed common and important data structures and algorithms that form the foundation of all software, and computing in general.
  • In advanced programming we focused on group projects and used tools for collaboration, such as Git and GitHub. Here are the two final projects from that course, both completed in 7 weeks with 4 students per project:
  • In data mining the students implemented machine learning algorithms in Python.
  • And last, but certainly not least, in the senior project three students worked on a project for the Pioneer Pantry (also see logo).

I want to elaborate a bit more on that last project. Point Park University is looking to start a food pantry and they were in need of a database that would keep track of the inventory, as well as a website where the inventory could be managed and students could place orders. Throughout the semester, the students approached this problem as if they were running a startup, which meant that they had to build prototypes, go out and meet with potential customers, do a final presentation to the client at the end, and much more. The result was very impressive, and this means that the system is going to be used when the food pantry will launch some time later this year! It’s great to be able to combine schoolwork with something that benefits the community.

Finally, several students are working on creating the Information Technology Student Organization (ITSO). They easily gathered enough signatures from all students and if not for a small hiccup, the organization would already be formally formed. This will now have to wait until the start of the Fall semester, but in the mean time it will be operated as if it already exists. ITSO will offer many benefits to students, including networking opportunities, the ability to interact with more advanced students (juniors and seniors), and the opportunity to apply information technology to help the community. Very promising!

Enjoy your summer! Hope to see everyone again soon!

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