IT’s Academic

Sixteen years ago, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) became the first school in North America to offer a four-year degree program in something called information technology. This ground-breaking program moved away from the theoretical base of traditional computer science curricula, focusing instead on the applied aspects of computing. Although RIT’s program was a great success, it was almost a decade before other schools began to follow suit.

These early programs at schools such as Brigham Young University (BYU), Georgia Southern University (GSU) and Purdue University all emerged with the same purpose in mind: prepare graduates to fill a quickly growing hole in the computing job market.

As companies began relying on the Internet and corporate networks to meet more of their organizational needs, employing computer specialists who could manage and integrate network systems became a business requirement, said Dr. Han Reichgelt, associate dean of the GSU College of Information Technology.

“Most of the students who came out of the computer science programs were very good when it came to taking on programming positions but did not necessarily know how to keep a network up and running — same thing for students out of information systems programs,” he said. “So, in that particular area, there was a need to be filled.”

Despite the downturn in the IT market during the early part of the decade, students have responded to this need by overwhelmingly choosing IT programs over their computer science counterparts.

At GSU, for example, about 400 students have declared…



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