This issue contains a lot that comes directly from you. In the Summer, because I received only one response to my question in "Your 2 Cents", I includes some information about the state of interest in Computer Science among college freshmen. This seems to have provoked many of you into action. Make no mistake; I am not complaining. I was very pleased to receive nine responses to the question about foreign language. I was also very pleased to receive six reactions to the Summer article, many of these were from the same alumni who addressed the foreign language question. Nevertheless, this was the sort of feedback that we would like to get often from the alumni. I used the responses to the foreign language question into this issue's "Your 2 Cents" and created a second article out of the reactions to the Summer article.
Some of the material that came in with the e-mail in response to "Your 2 Cents" was passed on to Carol. She included some of it in her article. This added to the material that Carol had collected on her own, much of it coming from the Homecoming breakfast which by all accounts was a big success. Bill Oblitey also mentions the breakfast; but his focus in on some of our exchange students and on colloquia. Joe Shyrock mentions the impending change to Office 2007 as the standard for the university; currently the standard is Office 2003.
This issue also contains an unusual appeal from Bob Badger at AK Steel. AK Steel wants to celebrate is 25 years of association with IUP through the internship program by contacting its former interns.
The front cover is related to the question about foreign language. It helps to read the Spanish caption quickly to get the play on words suggested by the English response.
Jim Wolfe, Editor
Hello everyone, I hope and pray that things are going very well with you and I want to bring you up to date on how things are faring in the department.
It was nice seeing all of you who were able to come for our Alumni Breakfast on the Saturday of the Homecoming Weekend. I hope you will be able to come for the next one (we will let everyone know as soon as it is scheduled) and that more alumni will show up. The cordial atmosphere of chatting with you, seeing your spouses and children was just wonderful. For those of you who could not make it, there is another reason you may want to come around. The University is getting a completely new look. Buildings have been demolished and new ones have sprouted in their place. You may want to come over and take a look at the central and southern portions of the campus. The Kovalchick junk yard has also been purchased by the University and clean up has begun in preparation for a convocation center. I doubt if you will recognize your old campus if and when you visit.
This academic year, we have five students studying with us on an exchange program. I had all of them in one of my classes and I can report that it was fun to have them. Dr. Shubra also has them in his COSC 220 course and he echoes my sentiments. Three of these students are from Oslo, Norway and the remaining two are from Bristol, England. It seems that the partnership with Oslo and Bristol will go beyond just the exchange of students since the chair of the Computer Science Department from the Oslo university College came here to discuss the exchange of students (both ways) and also faculty exchange. We are taking this very seriously: the exchange of students is already in place; and our Director of International Affairs has already started the wheels turning to expedite the faculty exchange.
I want to remind you about coming to campus to present at our colloquia. The topic should be of your choice but computer related. Our colloquia are usually held on Wednesdays starting at 2:30 pm and they normally go from 30 to 45 minutes. We can modify the time to suit you and even change the day if Wednesday is not convenient. If you are interested, get in touch with me (email@example.com) or with Dr. Waleed Farag (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss your topic and available times and we will arrange for you to be scheduled. Our colloquia can also serve as a helpful recruiting tool for your company. One person from the company could do a presentation on a computer related topic and another could talk about what students should expect if they were to work at your company. Our colloquia series is becoming very popular nowadays because of the low turn out of Computer Science graduates. Companies have started to partner with us and they have also been using our colloquia series to advertise the opportunities in their companies to our students. This semester three companies have visited to discuss the potential of getting our graduates; and one just gave us a colloquium presentation. I hope many of you will also take advantage of this opportunity. I look forward to hearing from all of you.
The University has come up with a way of making sure that students do not wait until the last minute to register for classes. We have had some problems with this in our planning for classes. Some students will delay their registration for classes; and when we look at the numbers, we cancel some classes that we think are not going to make it due to very poor enrollments; then after we have cancelled those classes, we get some students, sometimes in substantial numbers, coming to us claiming that they were planning on registering for those classes but they had been cancelled. Now the University will assess a late registration fee of $100 on students if their initial registration for Spring 2008 occurs after the last day of Fall 2007, that is December 15, 2007 and $200 will be assessed if the registration occurs on or after the first day of the Spring 2008 semester, that is January 14, 2008. New and transfer students are exempt from this fee for their first semester and readmitted students are also exempt for their first semester of readmission.
I want to end by wishing each and everyone of you a Happy Thanksgiving. I'm sure you have waited long for the thanksgiving break and even though you may read this after the thanksgiving celebration, my wish remains. Let me also wish you a very Merry Christmas for the upcoming Christmas holidays in December, and a Happy New Year for the 2008 year. Hopefully, you may be in the area 2008 year and decide to come pay us a visit or make time to come to one of our Alumni weekend programs.
Hi Everyone!!! Hope you're having a wonderful fall. Isn't this weather great? I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving. I even have some news to report - much better than summer, and I thank all of you who heeded my plea.
First of all, congratulations to Dr. John Sweeney who has recently become a grandfather for the second time. Colin Daniel Anderson was born August 15 at 12:15 p.m. He was eight pounds and 20 inches. He was welcomed home by his sister, Ciara Sweeney Anderson who is 2 1/2. They are the children of Dr. Sweeney's daughter, Maureen. Dr. Sweeney is enjoying retirement and thinking about maybe moving to Pittsburgh to be nearer the grandkids. Again, congratulations.
Had a nice e-mail from Michael Whyte (5/01) who is working at Penn State University now and sent along information regarding job openings which I posted for our upcoming grads, but I will also make it available to those of you out there who may be interested. These are for the office where Mike works; they are expanding their development team and looking for two entry level programmers. And, they are also looking for a lead programmer and this position requires someone with several/many years of experience. Here is the info for anyone who might be interested: http://www.ohr.psu.edu/ or http://www.psu.jobs/
Vickie (Pearce) Ringhoff (12/94) sent me the website for the pictures of Rylee's first birthday, their trip to the beach and her Halloween pictures. There are also pictures of Tico. Here ya go: www.picturetrail.com/vickpics. I can't believe Rylee is a year old already. She is just so cute, you have to take a look. Thanks Vickie - keep 'em coming.
Congratulations to Mike Bigrigg (5/91) on his marriage on November 15 to Karen Filipski. They were married in Disneyworld on the 15th and had two receptions - one in Pittsburgh on November 10 which we were all invited to and which was SO nice - and one in Philadelphia after the wedding so that Karen's family could attend and nobody had to drive across the state. Mike is now working for CMU in Pittsburgh - since we lost him from IUP. Much luck to you Mike on your marriage and on the job. We miss you.
Had a nice update from Wes Michael (5/87) who thought I wouldn't remember him and, of course, I do. For the past seventeen years, Wes has worked for Telcordia Technologies in New Jersey, but his office is in his apartment and his office moved to Ohio in December 1999. He works on an application that collects and reports on traffic data from customer phone switches. He provides deployment and customer support to AT&T, Qwest, Cincinnati Bell and a couple other small companies. Wes has three children, Damian (12), Hayden (10) and Cassie (7). Thanks for the update, Wes!!! Don't wait so long next time.
I heard from Steve Skripek (8/02) - hadn't heard from Steve since 2004. He's been a busy boy!!! He enrolled at Penn State Great Valley in their Master of Science in Information Science program in the summer of 2004, and graduated last summer. Our congratulations to you, Steve!! Then, in January of 2006, he changed jobs and got a promotion when he took a position where he works more with the customers rather than supporting the software organizations; he also now spends more time preparing power point slides than writing software. Last spring he became a homeowner. He bought a house in East Norriton which is one of the suburbs around King of Prussia. He lives there with his girlfriend, Kristin, who graduated from IUP in 2001 and their two dogs Loki and Raven. Steve sent me a picture, too, and they are gorgeous pups!!! Steve also bought a motorcycle in the spring of 2004, and has now become quite a motorcycle enthusiast and along with becoming an amateur mechanic. Steve also sent me a picture of him on his motorcycle while on vacation at Deal's Gap, North Carolina. It's quite a motorcycle!!! In November they were planning on attending a wedding in the Florida keys. Sounds like the place to be in November!! Thanks so much for bringing me up to date, Steve. Great to hear from you.
We send our congratulations to Tessa Polenik Anodide, spouse of Roland Anodide (12/02). Tessa was one of the IUP Ambassadors for Homecoming this year. Tessa was a Math Major but took some computer science classes so we got to know her and so she stopped in on Friday, the 12th, but we didn't get to see Roland. I was hoping to see them both at the breakfast on Saturday but Tessa was in the parade and had to line up at 9:30 and I think it was just too much of a rush for them to stop in. Sorry I didn't get to see you Roland, but you DO need to send an update.
So, that brings me to who was here for the Homecoming Breakfast:
Mike Rudge (5/83) and his wife, Celeste, were here. Mike is still living in Baden and working for IBM. Celeste is teaching. I actually saw Celeste this summer while I was giving PRAXIS exams here in Stright and she was taking some exams to get certified in some other areas. It was great to see you both!!! Keep in touch.
Tony Popp (5/98) was at the breakfast with Victoria and Vivian who are just the cutest two little girls you ever want to see. Tony had the girls because his wife is (was?) due any minute to give birth to daughter number 3 (Antoinette). Tony is working at ESRI in Johnstown. He previously worked for the Vanguard Group in Malvern, PA, MobilVox here in Indiana, and CTC in Johnstown. Tony, it's always great to see you and I do expect to get news about Antoinette.
Mike Everett (5/97) was here. Mike is still with IBM and living here in Indiana. Mike had ten people sleeping at his house for Homecoming. The biggest news in Mike's life is that his wife, Ann, is going to law school in Pittsburgh and has been traveling back and forth to Duquesne University three times a week. As always, Mike, it's nice to see you.
Milt Ferguson (12/96), his wife, Lori, and their son, Ian were here - always great to see them. Milt has been working at Sheetz since graduation. He is currently a Programmer II, but prior to that was the PeopleSoft DBA and System Administrator. Lori is a student here at IUP. I also got to chat with Milt's sister, Cathy (Ferguson) Johnson (5/88) during the breakfast and she's promised to give me an update. Always good to see you guys.
Micky Hart (5/91) worked for Latrobe Steel for three years after graduation and then moved to BioControl where she worked for two years, then moved to IUP and stayed here for eight years. Now, for the past three years, she's been working for SunGord Higher Education as a Banner Advancement Functional Consultant. She works out of her home here in Indiana. Micky's kids are off on their own now and
are doing very well. Thanks for coming, Micky, see you next year.
Donnie Wishard (5/95) was with us. For the past seven years, he was Director of Information Technology for PeoplePC located in San Francisco. But, as of September 30 of this year, he has been on "off". He plans on going back to work for himself in mid-November and until then, he says he's enjoying not working 50+ hours a week. Donnie is currently living in Roswell, GA. I have to mention an e-mail I had from Donnie - and the reason I have to mention it is because of how students fight us on the foreign language requirement. Read about how Donnie benefitted from the requirement in "Your 2 Cents". The reason I mention it is because I hear that same story over and over. Thanks for the input Donnie and it was really great seeing you. Don't wait so long next time.
Tim Jamison (5/98) worked at Timken Latrobe Steel from 1998 to 2000. He's now working at Union Switch & Signal where he does embedded software engineering for safety train control systems. He's been to Boston twice for the Embedded Systems Conference where he learned about Engineering UML on requirements traceability. He's also working more in a leadership role on projects and getting used to doing that. He's also been to Japan twice and is hoping to get back there again soon. Always great to see you, too, Tim.
Jason Agostoni (12/97) is now working as a Software Architecture Consultant for a company called CEI. He has been with them for 2.5 years and is really enjoying the challenge and pace. Another plus is the travel to places like New York City and Chicago. His wife, Jackie, is now a full fledged M.D. and finished her fellowship in Research and Faculty Development and is an attending physician teaching in family medicine in addition to seeing patients. In addition to that, they have the most adorable daughter, Skyler, who was a little over a year old; she very cautiously let me hold her. Can't wait to see her next year.
Melissa Karolewski (5/07) is working at Lockheed Martin in Philadelphia and is working toward her Masters Degree in Information Security. She's living in Royersford, PA.
Zack Howe (5/96) is working in Data Warehousing and living in Douglasville, GA. Since Zack is originally from Indiana, we do get to see him once in a while when he is home visiting.
Jenna Lutton (5/07) is working at Contemporary Technologies as an Oracle DBA and is doing some Unix system administration work and currently is working on their new monitoring tool. She also was recently engaged and our congratulations to you, Jenna!! Jenna is planning her wedding for 2009 and I'm hoping to hear all about it.
And, I hope I didn't miss anyone. We seemed to have a nice sized group and we enjoyed seeing all of you.
Doug Blystone (8/95) gave me a nice update. Big news in his life. He has a new baby daughter, Molly Jane who was born on September 1. She weighed 7 lbs. 8oz. and 21" long and Doug was really missing his sleep. Congratulations, Doug! Doug's passion for volleyball has turned into a coaching avocation (pretty much a full time avocation). He still plays but his time is pretty much used up with the coaching. He's the varsity coach at Saint Basil Academy in Jenkintown - (www.sbavolleyball.com). They didn't have a great year this year, but next year he thinks will be better. Not only does he coach those girls but he also runs his own girls' junior program which is in its third year and is expanding to seven teams. It's a non-profit organization and they strive to provide a positive coaching environment for the players. They play under the KRVA (Keystone Region Volleyball Association), a region under USA Volleyball. (www.highlinevb.com). They travel over the eastern US playing in tournaments. AND, this year the KRVA is hosting the national bid tournament right here at IUP. Doug's hoping to get his teams here, but isn't sure their finances are such that he can bring them. Doug is really enjoying coaching and says the only thing interfering with his coaching is work! But, he's met and worked with some of the greats in volleyball such as Pat Powers and John Kessel. He's also the KRVA Region Coach and Player Development Director and is serving a two year term as an advisory council member on the board of directors. He has also acquired many VB coaching certifications, such as IMPACT, CAP Level I, CAP Level II and IMPACT instructor and is one of only three people in the state eligible to teach the IMPACT course for USA Volleyball. Wow, Doug!!! This is great!
But, folks, that's not all - Doug and a friend started a company (GotRef) a few years back that specializes in official to game assignment logistics. He said it's been slow undertaking, but there could be some sizable announcements within a few months. The website is www.gotref.com and they built it on top of DotNetNuke which is a great tool for building provider modeled sites. He's still working as an adjunct professor at Widener University as needed for the Object Oriented Programming course offered in their masters' program. This past spring, he taught it in C# which he said was a lot of fun and the students enjoyed the course quite a bit. And he's also still working for a small consulting type company called Meta Pharmaceutical Services where they do pharmaceutical consulting. His hours are 6:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. so he has lots of time for coaching.
His family took a vacation to Canada over Christmas last year and stayed at Niagara Falls for a couple days, then drove to London, Ontario (to see the Labatt Brewery), then off to Toronto before heading home. Along the way they stopped at all the Laser Quest places they could find to play laser tag. For anyone that's interested, the best one they found is in Wyomissing, PA. Next year, their entire family including all the in-laws and the nanny are heading to Saint Maarten for a 'family vacation'. Doug insinuated that it might be the next sequel of the National Lampoon movies. We'll be watching for it!!! Thanks so much Doug for the fantastic update!!!! Maybe we'll see you here before long.
Also had a short note for Becky (Salter) Corindia (5/92). She's been busy - not only is she working, but Kiri is going to preschool 3 days a week. She said she's gotten too used to being a stay at home mom. She's working for a friend of Dan and it's a temporary job until they find someone else. Dan was still deployed but should have been back in October, then he was to go to Alabama in November. Becky was hoping to be back home by then, so she could go with him but, with her job, it didn't look promising. Let me know how it turned out Becky and thanks for the update!
Also had a nice update from Jim Butler (8/88). Jim is still working at Concurrent Technologies in Johnstown where he has been for almost nine years now. His wife, Bonnie, is still a stay at home mother with their two boys but has started a home-based retail business, which has been going well for her. Adam is off on his own now, living near Indiana. He went back to school to study horticulture and is working for a local nursery. Ryan is going into second grade. He is doing very well in school and has tested into the gifted program. Dylan started pre-school this fall and is really excited about it. Jim is currently involved in work related to software assurance and there are many opportunities right now for skilled engineers to work in this area. CTC has been working with several government agencies for several years now in software assurance and has become a recognized leader. Jim also asked me to let everyone know about a job fair CTC was holding. I did post a notice on our job board, Jim. As always, it's good to hear from you and I do appreciate the update.
Donna (Reed) Rosenberger (12/81) stopped in one day for a nice visit. It was right before Homecoming; she let me know she wouldn't make it to breakfast because her family was having a reunion of sorts (her father's birthday); and she would be heading for Oil City. Donna is still teaching at Duquesne and also doing some online teaching for Warner Southern University in Florida. I think I probably mentioned in the past that Don (12/81) and Donna's son, Donny, is now one of our majors; and it's really nice to have him in the department. Thanks for stopping, Donna.
I had a nice update from Dave Fish (5/92). It had been awhile since we heard from Dave. He's still working at the Marriott as a senior systems analyst in the Property System Services. He was married on October 4, 2003 to Karen Dehoff and on October 10, 2005 they had a daughter, Danielle Alexandra. Dave sent a family picture and they are a beautiful family. Danielle looks like Dave and Dave hasn't changed since he was a student. I hinted to Dave that it would be nice to see him at the breakfast, but he said they would be driving back from the Outer Banks at that particular time. Well, ok, I know some people have to take vacations and all that. Hey Dave, it was really great hearing from you. Don't be a stranger.
Congratulations to Angela and Brian Rhea (5/02) on the birth of Ava Leigh. She was born on August 25 at 5:37 p.m. and weighed 6 lbs. 10 oz and was 19 inches long. They sent pictures and she sure is a cutie!!! Angela and Brian are loving being parents and Ava is a good little baby. Angela is on maternity leave until January so she'll be able to spoil Ava for a another month or so. Thanks so much guys for letting me know and for sending the pictures.
And, I would also like to thank Candee, wife of Eric Kirkpatrick (5/00) for sending me updates on their family. Olivia is growing like a weed and is just as cute as a button. From the look of the pictures, they had a pretty good Halloween with lots of pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. They're still living in Butler. Thanks again, Candee, for including me!
Barry Day (5/77) - Barry, Barry, Barry - you so make my life look boring. Barry sent me pictures of his trip to China and Paris. What a wonderful trip. It took me awhile to look at all those pictures because I had to take it all in. Thank you so much for sharing!!! And, also, please keep on traveling and sending me pictures.
Mark Minser (5/00) sent an e-mail to tell me he was going to miss the homecoming breakfast. I think this is the first one he has missed!!! But he had to be out of town that day, so we did excuse him for this one year. He was also scheduled to come to IUP to do campus interviews for Raytheon on October 16, but since we didn't see him, I'm assuming that was canceled due to lack of response from the students. Raytheon has been hiring aggressively of late and, of course, we were hoping there would be a good response from our majors. Mark is still driving to State College every day from Armagh. But, unfortunately, he hit a deer in his trusty Mazda which he'd had for seven years and which had almost 340,000 miles on it. He said it never broke down or refused to start. It was a sad day, but Mark is still listening to books on tape as he drives his new and different car. Great hearing from you Mark! Hope you can stop in sometime.
I also had a nice e-mail from Cameron Nesky who is a freshman computer science major this semester. So why, you're wondering, am I telling you this?? Because Cameron is the son of Scott Whitney (5/98). So we have two alumni children here this semester and it's so great to have them here.
I talked to TJ Hall (5/88) one day. TJ is doing well. He's still working for Saber Systems (which had been USAir and has now been sold to EDS) in Pittsburgh. He was doing COBOL programming, but in 2003 they off-shored their COBOL programmers so, now he's doing database security, He has also branched off a bit and bought a house that has an insurance agency in it; so now he's in the insurance business and that's also doing well. TJ, you'll never change and it was really great to talk to you. Thanks for calling!
I'd like to pass along a little blurb about one of our own - Jeff Montgomery (8/92) has been appointed Coordinator of Application Development here at IUP. He had been in that position on an interim basis since January, 2005. Before that he had been a Senior Systems Analyst and the HUB Coordinator for the Keystone Library Network at IUP. He went to work for UPS when he graduated and migrated to IUP. Congratulations Jeff!!
Also congratulations to Dan Burkett (5/86). Most of you are aware that Dan works here in the Math Department. But, he was also appointed the Dean's Associate for the coming year. He will be working with the students who need help within the college. Congratulations Dan. It's nice to work with you.
"I" didn't have an e-mail from Karl Keller (5/85); but he should know he can't escape me. Karl has volunteered for a colloquium, and we will definitely take him up on that offer. Karl, we'll tell you what a colloquium is before you get here - honest! Karl took us on a little trip down memory lane which was very nice. He worked in Tompkins computer lab to earn spending money during his years at IUP. Now, however, he admits that he did this mainly so he'd have a computer to work on. Back in those days, not every student had a computer. He also did an internship at Giant Eagle in Pittsburgh. Before graduating, he was hired by Mellon Bank where he worked for eight years and then his business unit was sold to Fiserv where he worked for another eight years. During the last two years he worked at Fiserv, he was presented with an opportunity to open a new data warehouse business unit in the UK, and he moved his family to London and, while there, he got a chance to work with some of the major European banks in London, Ireland, Spain & South Africa. Most of Karl's career has been spent in the data warehouse industry. He helped build one of the first enterprise-wide data warehouses for banks and financial institutions. After several years in the programming area, he moved into management positions and later into sales and marketing positions.
He left Fiserv three years ago to start his own business. He felt that many banks are not fully utilizing the customer behavioral information they have available to them within their data warehouses and he wanted to make the data actionable so banks could use information from a sales and marketing perspective. Therefore, he started Quest Analytics, a technology and consulting company focusing on helping banks grow faster using customer behavioral analytics. They develop computer models to predict attrition as well as propensity to purchase. Their latest applications help banks identify daily sales opportunities and track them to completion. Keep up the good work, Karl and we hope to see you before long.
I also had a wonderful update from Peggy Mogush (5/87). Peggy has done a turn-around, career wise and has forsaken her computer science degree. She's been working in retail in Erie at Whole Foods Co-op, which is a local community-owned cooperative grocery - as a cashier, in customer service, and as an evening manager. And, she has gone back to school. She's taking classes at Edinboro toward a second Bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies and Geography. She wanted to do something outside, and was just getting burned out in the computer field. Then this summer the co-op installed a new Point-of-Sale system and, since Peggy had the experience she ended up deeply involved in the implementation.
More exciting for Peggy though is that last February she began a part time internship for the local Watershed Association. She's looking at the vegetation in Edinboro Lake which is a glacial kettle lake that is over nourished or eutrophic (thanks for the new word, Peg!) and is, therefore, being depleted of oxygen. The Watershed Association was awarded a Growing Greener Grant from the state to do a riparian buffer analysis of the streams in the watershed and put together a Watershed Management Plan. They'll be taking a look at the vegetation that lies along streams and tributaries. Then this data will be used to support individual property owners who may want to apply for assistance from the state in improving the riparian buffers on their land. Peggy's role in this is to do much of the GIS analysis. Or, to put it in plain language - she's on the computer all the time, but as an application user this time. She's looking at aerial photos of the watershed, combined with stream and road layers, ownership parcels, groundwater, wetlands and using ArcGIS is putting the layers together, and she's examining aerial photos to evaluate and score stream segments based on buffer quality. Eventually the data will be used to create various maps of the watershed.
On top of working part time at the co-op, going back to school part time, and doing the internship part time, she also helps out a local animal rescue by fostering stray cats until they can be permanently adopted. She and her significant other, Brian, are living in his grandparent's old farmhouse on forty acres which has afforded them the opportunity for a huge garden and they've been able to freeze and can for the coming winter. Peggy has gotten that feeling that comes from being able to self-sustain and, as Peggy says, it also tastes better. She has become very interested in support of local communities, business, and farmers, and she says that as a society we have become so far removed from the basics that sustain us. (I certainly agree Peggy!) Peggy says she has become a redneck hippie and she happens to like it. It's really great to hear from you, Peg!!! Take care and don't be a stranger.
I also had a really nice e-mail from Janet Harrell (5/90). I hadn't heard from her in years and, of course, contrary to her belief, I remembered her!!! And, yes, it is about time you sent an update. We've missed you. I'm so glad you sent me the itinerary for your summer. Janet had a GREAT summer! She started her own company in February of 2000. It's called Ideal Business Innovations, Inc. and she's very happy she made that move. Janet's last big project ended last April, when she finished managing a $45M infrastructure program for a large health care system in Michigan. They upgraded core switches in the data center, reconfigured the WAN to provide redundancy where possible among 75 plus facilities, implemented new technology at remote sites to improve the WAN connectivity, and installed the third largest wireless LAN in North America at one of the facilities. Then she completed an audit of their program and took a little break focusing on some smaller and more personal projects.
For the first time since graduating college, Janet enjoyed the entire summer! One of the personal projects she was involved in and which lasted several months was a total renovation of her kitchen. Her special man, Kurt, just happens to be a licensed builder. He gutted her kitchen and built her a new one - with a little help from Janet. She now has a beautiful new kitchen that is much more functional and fun for cooking. In between working on the kitchen, they went to Las Vegas for a short get away, went canoeing and camping around Michigan, enjoyed their friends and family, and recently got back from hiking in the Upper Peninsula. So Janet is now all rejuvenated and is back to marketing her consulting services. She also has another companion, Humphrey, whose picture she sent; he is a very handsome fellow and Janet's pride and joy. I'm sure everyone has figured out by now that Humphrey is a dog. She adopted him when he was about two years old after he was rescued from an abusive family; he is now very happy and healthy with a whole lot of personality. He enjoys car rides, long walks, camping, canoeing, and hiking - just like his mother, right? Thanks for the update Janet. It was great hearing from you.
I also have a bit of an update on Zach Palmer (5/04) - thanks to Jim Wolfe. He moved to Windsor, PA with a friend college who owns an operates a martial arts studio in that area. Zack decided to run a small computer hardware business out of his home and he wanted to provide his customers with a recovery disc. So, he spent some time constructing WISP, an open source disc imaging and recovery LiveCD (http://www.bahj.com/wisp). Since July he has been working on contracts for Amentra in the capacity of an enterprise software developer, adding functionality to existing systems to assist the clients in meeting whichever business goals they've set. Along the way he also developed an editor for the in-house compression format that Blizzard uses for Diablo II animations http://www.bahj.com/sixdice. Way to go, Zach, we're all proud of you.
That's all the news I have for this issue. I want to thank everyone for answering my plea for people to write - as I've said in the past - it's job security. Now, you need to let me know what you did over the holidays!!
Things have been pretty quiet around the Computer Science department and the University in general. The date for the change to Office 2007 is tentatively set for Fall 2008. That should make for an interesting summer. Also during that summer, we hope to have new machines for Tompkins lab. How many of you remember WebCT, the online tool used to supplement or teach distance education classes? The university is looking to replace WebCT; it was bought by BlackBoard and will not be supported by the vendor at some point in the future. The candidates to replace it are either BlackBoard or Sakai, an open source course management system. Either will be a huge endeavor for the support team.
At the beginning of the Fall semester, Information Technology Support (the new name for all computer support services at IUP) moved into its new home in the Suites-on-Grant. This is one of the new living-learning buildings that replaced some of the dormitories. The new facility allowed for expansion of the services and provided more space to deal with faculty and student problems involving computing on campus.
Lastly, remember Johnson Lab? I am not sure how many of you are aware of the University's decision to close it down at the beginning of this semester. This has really upped the volume of students that stop by Tompkins lab during peak hours. I'll be sure to let everyone else know what is happening in the next news letter, make sure you enjoy your holidays.
In January, AK Steel (formerly Armco Steel) in Butler, PA will reach the milestone of employing IUP Computer Science interns for the past 25 years. The relationship has stood the test of time and remains strong since the IUP curriculum is a perfect match for the work environment at AK Steel. IUP graduates hold about 1/3 of the IT jobs at the Butler plant. Over the last 25 years, we have had many excellent students who contributed to our success and much of the code written by our former interns continues to run today. Those of us that remain are very interested in where all of you have ended up. If you interned at AK Steel / Armco, please send me an e-mail about who you work for, where you live, and anything interesting going on in your life. If you keep in touch with people that don't receive this, please let them know. We would love to hear from you! Send to Bob.Badger@aksteel.com
Last issue, I asked, "Should foreign language continue to be a requirement for a Computer Science degree?" The response was rather amazing. Many of you had an opinion about this. In addition, many had an after-the-fact response to the summer edition of "Your 2 Cents" in which I injected my own opinion about attracting students to the field of Computer Science. Here, I will concentrate on the foreign language question; the responses about dwindling Computer Science interest are in a separate article.
Most of the responses to the language question answered "yes" and used one of two arguments in favor of keeping foreign language: 1) knowing a foreign language is part of a well-rounded, liberal education, or 2) information technology and business in general is more and more global so knowing a foreign language can benefit your job.
Here are opinions based on the well-rounded education argument.
Andy Weiss (5/93) Foreign language should be required for any bachelor's degree, in my opinion. Part of the purpose a bachelor's degree is to educate you in a core subject, that's why you have to declare a major. But another part of the purpose is to provide a "well rounded" education, continuing that which was begun in high school. If you don't want to take the "extra courses", then enroll in a trade school or get a certification of some sort.
Seeing "bachelor of science" on a resume means something to me. It means that this person has taken roughly four years of course work, which included deep focus on one specialty, but also included a smattering of courses covering a wide range of disciplines. I know the degree holder has been exposed to some secondary-level English, math, science, and foreign language. It's simply part of the definition of "bachelor's degree," to me.
Justin Streiner (5/97) In my mind, a huge part of the whole college experience is to be a well-rounded person by the time graduation rolls around, and I think that's something both students and parents rightly expect when they think of what it means to have a college education.
I'm sure you can think of students who were completely different people when they first set foot on a college campus at 17 or 18, compared to when they graduated four or five years later - the maturation process is a little different for everyone. Part of that process comes from exposure to foreign languages and cultures and college is one of the few places where that exposure is so readily available. Removing the foreign language requirement would do a great disservice to incoming students and also to an extent devalue the degrees they receive upon graduation.
T.J. Hall (5/88) I really enjoyed taking German at IUP. I had several years of it in high school so I was able to enroll in the upper level courses. I think it is a great learning experience for young adults. It may give them the inspiration to go visit another country and try their skills. It is always nice to see how other people live in this world.
Matt Selnekovic (5/06) Part of the university experience itself, regardless of major, ought to be a broad-based liberal arts experience, and the curriculum should reflect this. It may seem like a waste of time to some, but the end-goal is to create a more fully-rounded individual which a language program can contribute to.
Here are opinions based on the global economy argument.
Matt Selnekovic (5/06) Business is increasingly global, even for small enterprises; the company I work for is relatively small, but we still have partners and customers around the world. Even if one doesn't learn the particular language of a particular international partner, learning a foreign language ought to enable further exploration of language in general; that is, even without direct practical vocational utility, learning another language improves oneself in the general sense. Increased appreciation for other cultures and languages can even been seen as beneficial on code level details -- as internationalizing software is a complicated task that requires knowledge of other languages and cultures -- which ought not be ignored.
Wendy Godin Yes, yes, yes. I know it is a pain in the ... neck. However, French, Spanish and German are soooo last century. Perhaps if they offered languages that are more in demand in today's world such as Japanese, Chinese, Arabic or Farsi, it would not seem like such a burden. Even if it is just 'conversational' and not intense grammatically. Enough to get one started if one landed in a job which required that. The 'culture' could also be taught so that social faux pas can be avoided. This would make someone a huge asset to a company with business overseas.
[Ed Note: Students can (and do) take Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Swahili to satisfy the current language requirement. No Farsi, but a pretty good selection. Most still choose Spanish, French or German.]
Rebecca (Salter) Corindia (12/94) A lot of your students may not realize that they can actually get a higher salary/pay increase for knowing a second language. I know some of your students may kid themselves and say that they would never leave Pennsylvania. Many southern and western states (Texas, California, Florida, etc.) have a lot of Spanish speaking peoples, and many employees profit from knowing Spanish. If they move to one of these states, Spanish would be a great language to know. Also, many companies have gone global. For many U.S. Citizens dealing with foreign companies, it helps them a great deal in business if they know the foreign language of the companies overseas that they are dealing with; and even better, for knowing the culture in that country. It's really hard to learn a foreign language and not learn about the culture as well.
Donnie Wishard (5/95) At IUP, I had to take a foreign language, so I chose French. It was difficult, interesting, and enjoyable, however I did not think I would have a need for it any time in my life.
After graduating, the second job I held required me to work in Paris. I lived there for 9 months, and the work environment required spoken French about 85% of the time. The only time I spoke English was when I was on conference calls back to the home office in San Francisco. The French studies I had in High School, and the advanced courses at IUP were a huge help in me getting by while in Paris.
Not only that, I think in our field we run across a lot of folks that are of different cultures, and sometimes the foreign language is a common factor. Work aside, even in travel and holidays it has been very useful. I have been to 5 of the 7 continents, and I can tell you that my French studies have helped me in almost every journey.
Thomas Pepon (12/00) IT, and business in general, is becoming more global. The trend towards globalization is unlikely to stop. Knowing another language facilitates communication in a more global economy.
I also received a couple of ideas about when and how much foreign language should be taught. Part of this was the only person who said "no" to the question and another who lamented that most people quickly lose their language capabilities.
Patrick Conroy (5/75) I fear that the 6 to 12 credits of foreign language that most students need to take are far too little and far too late. Those that have
had sufficient foreign language exposure prior to college to require only 2 classes will learn little completing their requirement. Those that have never been exposed to a foreign language may be able to acquire a passing knowledge, but it is unlikely to be retained unless they need to use it in their daily lives. A foreign language is more easily assimilated at a much younger age. I feel that our country lags far behind the rest of the world in this arena; but I also believe that addressing it at the undergraduate level is wrong and continuing this requirement should be stopped.
Thomas Pepon (12/00) I had 4 years of Spanish in high school, and took 5 (total for my two non-adjacent degree programs) semesters of Spanish at IUP. In between degree programs, I taught mathematics at a high school that was 40% Hispanic. With all of that exposure, all of that time with the language, I was never close to being fluent in Spanish. Certainly, part of that can be attributed to my own shortcomings; but I don't think that passing intermediate level foreign language, even with significant effort, really allows anyone to become fluent in a language. If one doesn't reach a level of fluency, they will be less inclined to make that foreign language a part of their daily life, and it becomes just another bit of information to atrophy away.
FYI, the foreign language requirement applies to all students in the College of Natural Science and Mathematics; i.e., it is a college requirement, not a departmental one. Only a few colleges at IUP have such a requirement; for example, the only program with the Eberly College of Business that requires foreign language is the one in International Business - this seems to fly in the face of one argument above. In recent years, several departments within NS&M have opted to allow two semesters of computer programming language to substitute for the foreign language requirement. At this moment, one NS&M department (not Computer Science) is trying to eliminate the requirement completely. Their argument reads in part, "The foreign language requirement is being deleted from the _____ program because it adds little discipline-specific value to the program My own opinion is that learning even a small part of a foreign language is beneficial to an individual. It forces the person to experience a different way of thinking and at least a little of a different culture. People in the U.S. in my view are far too isolationist and narrow-minded on the whole. If they can gain a little insight into how the rest of the world operates through exposure to a foreign language, it can only be for the better. I have always been amazed that foreign language is not part of the liberal studies requirements at IUP; it was when I was in college.
The question for the Spring is primarily directed at those of you in positions in which you interview and hire; but anyone may have an opinion, "Is the quality of new-hires in the IT areas going up or down?" This question is not specifically about IUP graduate new-hires; it refers to the preparedness and work ethic of all IT new-hires. As always, I am asking all alumni for their responses and if you want to remain anonymous in your comments, please say so; otherwise, I will assume that I may attribute what you say to you.
Send responses to email@example.com
Apparently, some of you were startled at the graph and statistics that I included in the last issue to describe the problem of fewer students choosing to enter Computer Science. The probable major graph was from a national survey of students entering colleges and universities that has conducted for the past 35 years. Actually, there is another disturbing trend hidden within the graph which can be seen if men and women are separated. Less than 0.3% of women entering college express interest in Computer Science; the disparity in interest between men and women has been growing since the early 1990's. Graduation numbers for women in Computer Science have been going down or remaining flat for nearly all of this time, whereas women graduates have been increasing in all other sciences and engineering with especially strong growth in biological sciences.
The job projections through 2014 come from a bi-annual study that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has conducted for many years. I suppose it is possible that the projections are too rosy; but studies of current workers seem to support the trends. A new table, shown above, put together by ACM, documents that in 2006 there were 10% more people working in IT areas in the U.S. than at the height of the dot-com era, see http://usacm.acm.org/ usacm/weblog/index.php?p=542 Certainly, some categories (programmers in particular) have lost ground. But, the table clearly shows a shifting of positions into other areas, networking and software engineering.
With that said, here is what some of you had to say after seeing the Summer issue. Some agreed with Michael Ragan's suggestions about marketing; some did not.
Patrick Conroy (5/75) I think the trends in students taking computer science as a major can be tied to the their perception of the industry and their exposure to it in everyday life ... Systems that used to have large development staffs are now supported by a handful of technicians. There is also a huge push to outsource IT; and there is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of resources able and willing to do the job for lower pay.
I agree with Michael Ragan that this is in large part a marketing issue. Certainly a change in name from Computer Science to Information Technology would help. The use of a social networking site is also a good idea, but this needs to be coupled with a direct action to get the word out to prospective students. IUP, and colleges in general, should be sending out IT people to the high schools in their area. College fairs and other recruiting venues are normally staffed with admissions people talking about generalities of college life, majors available, and the admissions process. It would be helpful to work with the high schools to have a representative of IUP's IT staff talk to prospective freshmen about the career opportunities available to those with a degree in computer science, the diversity available, and how computer science can influence their prospects to advance into other management areas.
Andy Weiss (5/93) "Computer Science" is as unflattering and unattractive (your words!) as "Proctology". Wasting your time on marketing won't change what the field actually entails. It is what it is.
I hope that Michael Ragan is wrong. I honestly hope the problem is not related to marketing. Slapping a euphemism like Custodial Engineer onto the job of "janitor" doesn't fool anyone. Whether it's called computer science, information technology, or any other derivative, the general public thinks it involves "learning about computers". And they're right. If you DID attract oodles of people by simply changing the name, then many of them will be in for a surprise when they get involved in the course work.
Justin Streiner (5/97) In regards to the challenge of boosting student enrollment in Computer Science programs, I do agree that better marketing and more recruitment and outreach are needed to try to correct some of the negative images that the public at large have of Computer Science. I think the marketing and recruitment/outreach push needs to be not only at the departmental level, but at the university and even the state level.
[Ed Note: Both Andy and Justin asked whether there were studies that could provide more detailed demographics, identifying geographic region or types of universities. I haven't seen any regional studies; but Computer Research Associates conducts an annual study of the top PhD granting universities in the country. The CRA study shows similar results to the UCLA graph, although it counts Computer Science freshmen enrollment rather than measuring interest - it shows a 7% decline in each of the past two years alone.]
In addition to Patrick Conroy's comments about outsourcing, several others agreed that this was a problem.
Karl Keller (5/85) I find it hard to believe that more students are not heading for Comp Sci. I also agree it is a marketing problem. There are two other problems that many are seeing which are #1 India and #2 China. From my perspective, companies are going the outsourcing route. (IBM will have outsourced 40K jobs in India by year end) It has already happened and the cat is out of the bag. Why not get the programming jobs completed at 1/5 of the cost? The bigger question is how does the university deal with this fact in business today? There is still a demand for quality Comp Sci resources as you outlined in the salary survey in The Debugger. I believe the landscape has changed. The resources require much better design skills instead of just programming skills. In dealing with outsourcing, businesses have to be much better at defining exactly what they need if they are then going to outsource the coding work to foreign countries. I feel the student courses should continue to focus on quality design and definition as there is a strong demand for people who can describe exactly what they want a system to do for them on paper. I would also stress the need for students to think about being entrepreneurs. Your students have such a big advantage over my graduating class. They have a tool called a laptop that is now so inexpensive that everyone of them can make a career for themselves if they apply their skill set to the business environment. Why not provide some courses to help them expand on their intellectual ideas to help them grow businesses directly out of school? Certainly CMU and other universities are doing this; and it has been successful .
[Ed Note: Karl brings up two things that I have to comment on. There has been a discussion going on over the past couple of weeks regarding the teaching of programming within the Special Interest Group for Computer Science Education, part of ACM. One camp is saying that it is no longer appropriate to teach programming, that what should be taught is design, testing and software engineering principles. The other camp is saying that programming skills provide the basis which designers draw on to create new systems, that the understanding of how to program is essential to be able to design well-functioning systems. The second camp is larger than the first.
The other issue is entrepreneurial opportunities. About four years ago, a state sponsored organization provided grant funding to IUP to encourage students to develop some product or service related to computer security. The idea was to have undergraduate students initiate products or services which could be developed into a business; the students would have ownership rights to what they developed. Continuing funding would be provided for ideas that appeared to be capable of becoming a viable business. For nearly two years, the Computer Science department and the College of Business tried to encourage students to pursue this by making a proposal. None did and the money was given back.]
T.J. Hall (5/88) Convince corporations it is not in their best interest to ship jobs off shore. This is becoming a growing trend among company's in the US. Where is the easiest place to ship job elsewhere? You got it, in applications programming. I saw the writing on the wall and decided to get out of programming and move into Security. I now do database Security. There is even talk about moving some of this work off shore. Why would you allow any security work for your company be done outside this country. Sounds like it accident waiting to happen. DBA jobs are starting to be off shored. Where/when is it going to end? Unfortunately probably when a major breach happens at a large corporation. It doesn't matter that some of the work is sub par. The blame is just put back on the U.S. employees, "You must not have provided them with good enough specifications to do the job right".
Benjamin Zettlemoyer (12/93) So where can you go from here? It seems to me that the department may need to take an introspective look at its purpose (if it hasn't already done so). Additionally, perhaps looking at the data beyond just the Comp Sci major should be evaluated - ok enrollment in Comp Sci is down but where are the kids going these days and why? I can only speak anecdotally from what I've observed in the workforce, which is that there seems to be a general shift from "living to work" towards working to live" and that within most organizations, there seems to exist a lot of tension between Information Services and rest of the organization.
Most major organizations these days are searching globally for strong talent at a low cost, a trend I observed first hand at AstraZeneca. This may be an area to look at in terms of perception matching reality - the hospital here being an example of an organization having a hard time finding experienced IS professionals to staff the organization.
Perhaps another area to consider is the actual technology in the curriculum. I'm sure this is a constant battle but when I looked at the IUP course work and compared it to the Millersville course work, I wondered why there would be much difference. In my mind, with information on current events and trending being so prevalent, wouldn't the curriculums start to converge if the objective were to produce the highest quality professionals working in global organizations where the organization can hire people from anywhere in the globe.