Frequently Asked Questions | College of Information Sciences and Technology
Close Open

Please Update Your Browser.

It is recommended that you update your browser to the latest version to view the website's full experience.

Dismiss

Frequently Asked Questions

You are here

ISDEV

The ISDEV option focuses on developing a range of technical skills, including:

  • Fundamentals of  Application Development (IST 140 & IST 242)
    How to develop (program) basic, interactive applications using modern application development languages, tools, and methods.
    Students will learn the basics of application development including programming; basic algorithms and abstract data types; basic software testing methods; and basic software design.
  • Object Oriented Design and Programming (IST 311)
    How to design and develop an application using the object oriented model and associated tools, e.g. Java, the Unified Modeling Language (UML), model-view-controller.
    Students will learn and practice with intermediate tools and methods for designing and developing object-oriented software applications.
  • Application Design & Development Studios (IST 261/361)
    Practicing what you have learned through IST 242 (for the 261 studio) and then IST 311 (for the 361 studio).
    Students will practice applying what they have learned in prior IST courses by developing interactive software applications in a studio environment.
  • Design and Development of Distributed Software Applications (IST 411)
    How to design and develop concurrent software applications as systems of software components running on different machines across a network.
    Students will learn basic issues in concurrency; learn basic threaded and network programming; and practice developing component-based, concurrent software applications for multiple users distributed over a network.
  • Software Engineering and the Production Lifecycle (IST 412)
    How to develop production-quality software applications.
    Students will learn and practice advanced application development methods including software process modeling and the production lifecycle; project planning, scheduling, and management; requirements analysis; software testing methods and quality assurance; documenting and communicating throughout the development lifecycle; integrating software components; working in development teams; and source code control.
  • User-Centric Design and Development (IST 413)
    How to develop user and use-centered applications?
    Students will learn and proactive with understanding and validating end-user requirements, user interface design and development, social and organizational aspects of application development, with a focus on how to design software that meets users’ needs within a particular use context.

First of all, take as many IST courses as possible, in particular a broad selection of the 300-level courses. Developing information systems involves understanding the range of factors that impact the form of the IS solution. Students should consider CSE 121 and 122 if they are particularly interested in the technical dimensions of system development. Courses in cognitive psychology and graphic design are appropriate for students interested in designing for human-computer interaction. Also outside of IST students should consider an introductory financial accounting course, as so many systems deal with financial transactions or have transactions as essential inputs and/or outputs. 

Other courses to consider include those from: Instructional Systems (INSYS), Mathematics (MATH), Industrial Engineering (IE), Electrical Engineering (EE), Finance (FIN), Supply Chain and Information Systems (SCIS), Economics (ECON), and Technical Writing, and Communication Arts and Sciences (CAS). Students in this option should also consider taking courses from the College of IST’s Security and Risk Analysis minor. It is strongly recommended that you consider one or more application areas that are of special interest and take courses to gain an understanding of the area. This can be any domain from music to forestry to physics, but in the long run you will be happiest applying your IST skills to problems in which you have a deep and lasting personal interest.

User and stakeholder requirements analysis, systems analysis, application design, human-computer interface design, application quality assurance, application documentation (testing), application programming, among others.

  • Application Developer
  • Software Programmer
  • Software Quality Assurance
  • Business Analyst
  • Usability Engineer
  • Technical Writer/Editor
  • Systems Engineer
  • Human Factors Specialist
  • Software Engineer
  • User Interface Designer
  • Web Developer
  • Application Development Project Manager
  • Consider joining and getting involved in the student chapters of the ACM and IEEE.
  • Consider joining the AIS (Association for Information Systems) and/or SIM (Society for Information Management).
  • In addition, read industry magazines such as CIO, and Wired to keep pace with what is happening out there in the IT ‘world’.
  • Become familiar with Slashdot, Github, SourceForge, and other online resources.
  • We also would recommend taking a trip to Borders or Barnes and Noble every now and then and skim over some of the new books they have on enterprise software development. It will give you a good sense of the current state of the art in the industry.
  • Read books to broaden your horizons. Books on philosophy, literature, design, etc. can help expand your imagination.
  • Perhaps most importantly, practice designing and building applications for yourself, your friends and family, your favorite charity, a sports team, your college (!), or a business.

JAVA Programmers:

  • Must have proven application development experience for a large-scale J2EE-based system, as well as practice troubleshooting production problems.
  • Experience with rule-based systems and knowledge of open source frameworks (Struts/Spring/Hibernate) desirable.
  • Experience and demonstrated competence in Systems Development using Java, Javascript, HTML, .NET, XML, and Web Service. Familiarity with WebLogic 6.1+ desirable.
  • Understanding of and experience with relational database concepts and use of SQL queries. Ability to design, develop and implement high-quality code in a timely manner is essential.
  • Working knowledge of system development life cycle methodologies and UNIX/Windows operating systems.
  • MS Office proficiency (Word, Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook)

Information Management Program:

  • Academic excellence; strong analytical ability; proven leadership experience; team player, change orientation; demonstrated integrity; strong communication skills.
  • Understanding of business concepts/strategy, relevant intern co-op experience; business accounting coursework; multiple language skills; geographic mobility, global working/living experience. 

*Please be advised that this is simply a brief list containing some of the career positions a graduate from this option may encounter. It is not intended to serve as a comprehensive career guide, but rather to give students a sense of the general pathways to which this option may lead. Graduates from IST successfully apply their broad-based technology background in myriad professional settings. Some IST graduates also choose to continue their studies in graduate or professional schools.

ITINT

Enterprise integration focuses on system interconnection, data interchange, process modeling and reengineering, and distributed computing environments. The key goals of enterprise integration include:

  • Identify the information needs:
    This requires a precise knowledge of the information needed and created by the different activities in the enterprise. To identify and anticipate information needs, we first begin with models of processes within the enterprise. These models address information flows, decision-making points, feedback loops, and actions that result from the processes. As part of the modeling effort, processes are often modified to improve the enterprise’s performance.
  • Provide the right information at the right place:
    Once processes are modeled, information sharing systems and integration platforms capable of handling information transaction across heterogeneous environments must be established. The typical enterprise consists of heterogeneous hardware, different operating systems, and monolithic software applications (legacy systems). Enterprises often interact with one another on a day-to-day basis and their information systems often cross organizational boundaries to link the operations of different organizations briefly with short set-up times and limited time horizon (extended and virtual enterprises).
  • Update information in real time to reflect the actual state of the enterprise operation:
    Decision-makers require current operational data (information created during the operation) to identify potential actions and their consequences for the enterprise. In addition to operational data, enterprises seek to capture information about changing environmental conditions that may originate from new customer demands, new technology, new legislation or new philosophies of society since these changes may require modification of the operational processes, the human organization or even the overall scope and goals of the enterprise.
  • Organize and adapt the enterprise:
    To be successful, the enterprise must sense and respond to a wide variety of cues in its operating and external environments. Often this requires combining data from across the organization to uncover trends, and evaluating these trends with respect to internal and external environmental drivers of change.

To accomplish these goals, a solid understanding of systems analysis and design techniques and issues is needed. Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) is often thought of as the “core” of enterprise integration.

EAI is the process of linking together enterprise applications within a single organization (or across an extended enterprise of business partners) to simplify and automate business processes to the greatest extent possible, while at the same time avoiding having to make sweeping changes to the existing applications or data structures. EAI promotes data sharing between diverse applications of the enterprise and its partners.

Enterprise applications that are commonly in need of integration include:

  • Supply chain management applications (for managing inventory and shipping)
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP) (for managing many of the major business functions of the organization)
  • Customer relationship management applications (CRM) (for managing current and potential customers)
  • Business intelligence applications (for finding patterns from existing data from operations)
  • Other types of applications for managing data and information ( e.g., as human resources data, health care, internal communications, etc.) that typically cannot communicate with one another in order to share data or business processes. Such applications are sometimes referred to as islands of automation or information silos. This lack of communication leads to inefficiencies that can lead to critical competitive disadvantages.

You will learn key skills to prepare you for a career in enterprise integration, including how to:

  • represent (model) and analyze how work gets accomplished via business processes and workflow
  • translate what a business needs (business requirements) into how information technology will support those needs (IT requirements)
  • plan and manage large-scale projects (project management)
  • work effectively in a team, across distances
  • communicate and collaborate effectively in teams, across distances.

The core courses in this option include IST 302 (IT Project Management), IST 420 (Fundamentals of Systems and Enterprise Integration), and IST 421 (Advanced Enterprise Integration: Technologies and Applications).  They build on the central theme of use of enterprise IT to support organizational functions.

In addition to the other IST 300 level courses, any courses that add further depth, domain-specific, and other knowledge in enterprise technology, enterprise architecture or business are valuable.  In particular, the supply chain minor offered through the College of Business is a great compliment for student in this option. The College of IST is developing a new supportive area in enterprise architecture that is also a great compliment for students in the Integration and Application Option.  In addition, the security and risk analysis major in the College of IST offers courses that would be a good compliment to this option for those students interested in the security aspects of enterprise integration. Because of the broad background developed in this option, many major consulting firms hire our graduates.  For those students with an interest in pursuing a career in integration with a consulting firm, the College of IST offers a curricular track in consulting practices and approaches.

  • Access the strengths and weaknesses of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) products based on critical functionality in relation to particular client needs with major consulting firms like Accenture. 
  • Recommended a system to mirror and backup enterprise systems data without downtime and provided recovery procedures to improve disaster readiness for global 2000 companies like Unisys.
  • Analyze and plan the integration of enterprise systems for maintaining sensitive employee data for major defense contractors like BAE Systems.
  • Performed an analysis of Integrated Systems & Solutions processes and systems and make recommendations for a simpler and more efficient process and better integrated enterprise systems for companies like Lockheed Martin.
  • Design, develop, and implement a new corporate intranet that integrates multiple systems into one common web interface for clients of major consulting firms like IBM.
  • Work with companies like Best Buy to design and integrate supply chain systems needed to track inventories at different stores to ensure maximum availability with minimal inventory costs.
  • Help companies like Coca-Cola coordinate and integrate processes and systems for manufacturing, distribution, finance, inventory, and other critical business functions.
  • Work with humanitarian relief organizations to implement systems needed to coordinate information sharing and better decision making in a complex global network of partners.
  • Work governments to develop, integrate, and implement large scale systems.

Integration problems like to ones listed above are of concern to all types and sizes of organization and demand for integration related professionals is great and projected to rise dramatically in the future.  In fact, thirteen of the top fifteen hottest jobs in IT (according to CIO magazine) are directly related to enterprise integration and architecture careers.

The IT integration option is designed to prepare you with a combination of organization and technology skills so you can attack problems just like these. The option is for people that want to understand and use enterprise technology to solve complex business problems and is designed to provide a solid understanding of enterprise systems, integration approaches and technologies, process modeling and re-engineering, as well as an understanding of organizations and human dynamics.

There are several trade publications that best describe the concerns this option addresses. These include CIO, CIO Insight, Information Week, Knowledge Storm and Datamation. You will also benefit by keeping up with news magazines like Business Week, The Economist, and newspapers such as Wall Street Journal and New York Times Technology section.

IT & Business Consultant - Strategy and Management

Job Description:

Company XYZ is a leading Information Technology company empowering businesses and governments to plan, manage, and maintain their integrated, ultra-high availability, and secure operations. This is a position in the Enterprise Services - U.S. Public Sector Consulting organization. This organization provides Information Technology consulting services to United States Federal Government agencies and departments.

We are looking for motivated, analytical, and fast-learning individuals who are interested in contributing to this very important function of the company. The individuals will have the opportunity to work with a very competent global team in a collaborative atmosphere, in the delivery of the next generation of IT applications.

This position will have responsibility to work in the different phases of the development life cycle from business requirement gathering, to system configuration, to development, testing, and delivery of the enterprise IT solution. The candidate must be capable of working independently as well as with a team. This individual will collaborate with other team members in creating solutions that meet identified business requirements, participate in the design of large-scale systems and assist other team members with completion of their projects. In addition, the selected candidate will be expected to follow company processes and standards, and to study new technology and remain technically current.

Responsibilities include:

  • Develop business requirements, project work plans, system documentation, and training materials
  • Produce high-quality production deliverables using industry best practices.
  • Design logical and physical data models optimized for high throughput and minimum latency requirements.
  • Produce excellent, thorough, design, and development documentation.
  • Provide support and guidance for post-release, production systems.
  • Travel may be occasionally required.

The goal of Company XYZ’s US Public Sector Consulting is to establish Company XYZ as the world's leading information technology company; to be the best at helping customers manage and transform their IT environments to optimize business outcomes; and to be the provider of choice for IT infrastructure solutions that support the mission of our clients in the Federal marketplace. Enterprise Services US Public Sector Consulting specializes in systems integration, IT strategy, and infrastructure disciplines for a wide variety of US Government and State and Local accounts.

Company XYZ IT Career Foundation Program

Position Description:

Are you looking at the vast landscape of technology professions and trying to see where you fit in? Would you like to take a few jobs out for a test drive to see if it's right for you - or just to build skills that you would like in your toolset? Company XYZ IT is currently hiring talented and motivated college graduates into the IT Career Foundation Program. Participants in this program will be assigned challenging work assignments and be mentored by technology professionals who provide industry leading solutions. You will assist in delivering best in class technological solutions to our business, our partners, and our customers. You will be assigned tasks that will help you apply and expand on the skills you have developed at school and will assist in building a solid foundation for your future career with Company XYZ. Participants in the program will be exposed to software development and sustainment, Company XYZ's IT infrastructure, customer engagement, and information security.

Example positions include: System Integration, Systems Analysis, Enterprise Architecture, Programmer Analyst, and Project Management.

Company XYZ Information Technology is more than just the help desk. An organization of 8,000 employees, we support all aspects of The Company XYZ Company from Commercial Airplanes to Space and Defense Programs. We're responsible for business systems which support our finance, human resources and Company XYZ Capital Corporation. IT designs, deploys, operates and maintains the computing and telecommunications infrastructure for The Company XYZ Company. We also establish common processes, standards and procedures to use, protect and share information, and comply with government, regulatory and competitive obligations. We develop and sustain product systems which include our engineering, manufacturing, quality and supplier management organizations throughout the company. We are able to accomplish these goals by investing in both our people and our leadership.

Competencies

General:

  • Collaboration
    Generally works effectively and cooperatively with work group members, direct supervisor, and occasionally members of others work groups; establishes and maintains good working relationships by helping people feel valued, appreciated, and included in discussions. Places higher priority on team and/or organization goals than on own goals. Normally offers to help work group members, direct supervisor, and occasionally members of others work groups when they need assistance.
  • Communication
    Generally clarifies purpose and importance; stresses major points; follows a logical sequence. Usually keeps the audience engaged through use of techniques such as analogies, illustrations, humor, an appealing style, body language, and voice inflection. Frames the message in line with audience experience, background, and expectations; uses terms, examples, and analogies that are meaningful to the audience. Generally seeks input from audience; checks understanding; presents message in different ways to enhance understanding. Uses syntax, pace, volume, diction, and mechanics appropriate to the media being used. Accurately interprets messages from others and responds appropriately.
  • Customer Focus
    Considers customers and their needs when performing and/or working with others on routine tasks; supports others and occasionally becomes directly involved in developing and sustaining customer relationships; assists more experienced employees in seeking information to understand customers' circumstances, problems, expectations, and needs; prepares information which more experienced employees will share with customers to build their understanding of issues and capabilities; considers how day-to-day actions or plans affect customers; responds quickly to help others address customer needs and resolve problems.
  • Decision Making
    Recognizes a variety of issues, problems, or opportunities in own and occasionally in other work groups and determines whether action is needed; identifies the need for and collects information to better understand issues, problems, and opportunities. Generally integrates information from a variety of sources; detects general trends, associations, and cause-effect relationships. Creates relevant options for addressing problems/opportunities and achieving desired outcomes. Generally formulates clear decision criteria; evaluates options by considering implications and consequences; chooses an effective option. Implements decisions or initiates action within a reasonable time. Generally includes work group members, direct supervisor, and occasionally members of others work groups in the decision-making process as warranted to obtain good information, make the most appropriate decisions, and ensure buy-in and understanding of the resulting decisions.
  • Work Standards
    Strives to achieve a high level of quality, productivity, or service based on criteria established by supervisor/manager. Dedicates required time and energy to assignments or tasks to ensure that no aspect of the work is neglected; works to overcome obstacles to completing tasks or assignments. Accepts responsibility for outcomes (positive or negative) of one's work; admits mistakes and refocuses efforts when appropriate. Provides encouragement and support to others in accepting responsibility.

Technical:

  • Analytical Skills
    Skill and ability to: collect, organize, synthesize, and analyze data; summarize findings; develop conclusions and recommendations from appropriate data sources at the work group level.
  • Project Leadership
    General ability to accept and perform responsibilities and work assigned tasks as a project team member in support of the overall project. General ability to lead and direct the activities and resources of smaller assigned projects.

*Please be advised that this is simply a brief list containing some of the career positions a graduate from this option may encounter. It is not intended to serve as a comprehensive career guide, but rather to give students a sense of the general pathways to which this option may lead. Graduates from IST successfully apply their broad-based technology background in myriad professional settings. Some IST graduates also choose to continue their studies in graduate or professional schools.

ISPP

The Information, Society, and Public Policy option focuses on the human dimension of information technology.  This option provides students with the skills and knowledge to understand how people influence the design, development, diffusion, use, and management of information technology.  Students in this option will also learn how information technology is implicated in social change, and the affects of these social changes for individuals, communities, organizations, economies, nations, and global environments.

Specific skills for studying in this option include:

  • Assessing the special information needs of particular groups of users (IST 302 or IST 413)
  • Understanding users, organization and society, and their influence on the development and use of information technology (IST 431)
  • Exploring the economic, cultural, legal, ethical, and social issues that emerge from our increasing reliance on information and communications technologies (IST431, 432)
  • Analyzing the laws and public policies in the areas of privacy, intellectual property, censorship, and telecommunications policy (IST 432)

The prescribed courses, IST 302 or IST 413 (spring only), IST 431, and IST 432 (fall only), expose students to a broad perspective of the user, and how the user integrates with systems, technology, and contexts, and examine the significant social and policy implications that result from the design, implementation, and use of modern information technologies.

After taking these three courses, students will also be able to discuss the major themes in information policy studies (e.g. community, privacy, access, economic participation, security) and user studies (human-computer interaction, computer supported cooperative work), and be able to relate these themes to the applications of particular technologies.  They will be able to describe policy frameworks and issues, as well as the legal and social implications of these choices.

The following is a representative list of work assignments from each of the three courses in this option:

  • IST 302 or IST 413: Develop a user-centered design for an Internet-based medical information system
  • IST 431: Analyze the social, legal, and ethical impacts of telemedicine systems on healthcare
  • IST 432: Develop recommendations for how insurance companies should implement the recent privacy legislation governing customers' health transactions
  • IT strategic planning
  • Human-computer interface design
  • Systems analyst
  • Information policy analyst
  • Information technology consultant
  • Technology industry consultant
  • Learning about effective techniques for the development and design of user-centered information systems
  • Learning about the difficulties that certain classes of users have with using information technology
  • Learning about the positive and negative impacts of information technology on society
  • Learning about laws and policies that affect the use of information technology.

Trade eMagazines

Scholarly eJournals

The ways that people communicate and utilize information is being changed dramatically by new information technologies. Information and the technologies that are employed to create, organize, transfer and utilize that information in a networked environment, using such global networks as the Internet or internal networks such as Intranets, have become a key component of the global economy. This global environment is changing the way we interact, communicate, and function on the job and in our daily lives. The new technologies also raise new economic, cultural, legal, ethical and social issues that are of grave importance to society.  For these reasons, increasing attention is being paid to the human context that surrounds the information technology. We want to be sure that the technology is being used in appropriate and effective ways, and that the needs of people are being taken into account.

Emerging Leaders Management Development Program

This highly-selective management development program looks for college graduates from top schools that are ready to make a commitment to a growing and dynamic organization! Emerging Leaders learn the ins and outs of our property-casualty business while participating in one of two career tracks: Operations Management or Information Technology.  As an Emerging Leader in the Information Technology track, you will spend 2 ½ to 3 years learning our business by rotating through our information services and systems operations departments, located in our corporate headquarters.  Rotations may include database upgrades, business analysis, development and design, new application rollouts, data migration, documentation and/or project management.  In addition, you’ll learn about our fiscal year planning and budgeting cycle, work on special projects, participate in management meetings, receive mentoring from directors and officers, and learn how to become a successful manager.  Twice a year, all of our aspiring managers travel to our corporate headquarters for week-long leadership conferences and team-building. Emerging Leaders are given the opportunity to make a real contribution to the company’s bottom line and to interact with senior executives and associates at all levels. When participants complete their program, they are placed in positions of significant responsibility within the technology-operations of our company.  The Emerging Leaders work in a stable and fun environment, and are compensated for performance!


IT Trainee Program

  • Basic knowledge of applications or infrastructure design, testing and development.
  • Excellent communication skills, written and verbal
  • Excellent problem solving and analysis skills
  • Ability to work independently as well as in a team environment
  • Bachelors Degree, Min GPA: 3.0

Technical competency may include, but are not limited to: Track 1: C++, Visual Basic, SQL, COBOL, UNIX, DB2, Java, HTML Track 2: HTML, WebSphere, J2EE, Network Protocols.

  • Assist in the evaluation of business processes and needs in order to formulate programming/ systems specifications and programming logic from which information systems will be developed, taking into consideration computer equipment capacity, limitations, operating time and form of desired results.
  • Research alternative solutions and recommend the most efficient and cost-effective solution for applications systems development solution.
  • Participate in systems testing and utilize data verification methods and standard tools to analyze functionality of system in light of production requirements of client management.
  • Review the results of systems tests. Make adjustments to system design prior to implementation.
  • Design, code, test and debug applications systems using programming languages and systems architectures within operating environment of organization.
  • Assist in the evaluation of technology needs in order to formulate network, infrastructure systems specifications and the operational support model from which the information system will be developed, taking into consideration computer equipment capacity, limitations, operating time and form of desired results.
  • Research alternative solutions and recommend the most efficient and cost-effective solution for infrastructure systems deployment.
  • Participate in systems capacity testing, and monitoring using standard tools to analyze functionality of system in light of production requirements.
  • Assess IT security risks and research effective controls for safeguarding the IT environment of the global enterprise.

Information Technology Team Program

The Information Technology Team specifically focuses on:

  • Strengthening information security and critical computer-support infrastructure protection
  • Promoting sound enterprise architectures/infrastructures
  • Fostering mature systems acquisition, development, and operational practices
  • Developing and building upon best practices methodologies to better ensure use of sound information investment practices
  • Developing information technology human capital strategies

* Please be advised that this is simply a brief list containing some of the career positions a graduate from this option may encounter. It is not intended to serve as a comprehensive career guide, but rather to give students a sense of the general pathways to which this option may lead. Graduates from IST successfully apply their broad-based technology background in myriad professional settings. Some IST graduates also choose to continue their studies in graduate or professional schools.

Contact

Undergraduate Advising Center

E103 Westgate Building
advising@ist.psu.edu
(814) 865-8947

Schedule an appointment

Learn More