UAlbany's IT Commons prepares students for life in a complex information world
The challenges of today’s world are complex and continually evolving, especially in the area of information technology. UAlbany has developed a program dubbed the IT Commons to meet that challenge. Its goal is to infuse more IT-based courses into the University’s curriculum. Incorporating informatics curricula into traditional disciplines is essential to preparing UAlbany graduates for life and work in the 21st century.
Alumna Marilyn Otto (M.L.S.,’76), vice president of data development for Mapinfo Corporation, says that “today's graduating seniors will be asked what technology skills they have in order to be effective in a business. Depending on the position, they will be expected to have experience with anything from word processing/ spreadsheet/presentation programs to advanced programming skills.”
“If you look at which companies have competitive advantage, if you look at which government organizations are really doing innovative things in terms of services to citizens, if you look at what’s happening in education today, you’ll see effective use of information technology,” says Peter Bloniarz, dean of UAlbany’s School of Information Science and Policy and associate provost for informatics. “Whether someone is studying to be a biologist, or a lawyer or an accountant or a sociologist -- virtually whatever they are doing, information technology is incredibly important.”
UAlbany already has many IT-related areas of excellence in its academic and research programs.
The Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, for example, was ranked fourth in the nation this year in information and technology management by U.S. News & World Report. The management information systems program in the School of Business is nationally recognized. The Center for Technology in Government, an applied research center and recipient of a Ford Foundation Innovations in American Government award, works with government to develop information strategies that foster innovation and enhance the quality and coordination of public services. In addition, the University curriculum includes courses in information literacy, web design, geographic information systems and more.
Bloniarz and others who are involved in the IT Commons project are busy identifying what other kinds of IT courses UAlbany students will need and are adding research components to those areas identified, such as information policy and management, information security, database applications, data analysis, modeling and simulation, web development, information technology and learning, and computer programming.
“It’s clear that students with a combination of IT and disciplinary skills are highly sought in today’s workforce,” says Bloniarz. “Our IT Commons initiative will assure that our graduates are well prepared.”
Otto agrees: “The ability to do research, analyze data and disseminate pertinent information is critical to success. Most importantly, hiring managers look for practical utilization of skills learned in college through internships and summer employment. A comprehensive IT program such as the one planned for UAlbany will be invaluable to students.”
"Information Power," UAlbany magazine, fall 2004 (PDF file, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
School of Information Science and Policy
Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy
School of Business
Center for Technology in Government