IST graduates

Albert Banh (left) graduated in 2014 and works as a quality assurance test engineer for Corporation Service Co. 

Image: Regina Broscius

Tech pros critique Abington students' final projects

It looked like a cross between a class reunion, a professional conference, and a job interview in a Penn State Abington tech classroom last week.

Joe Oakes, senior information sciences and technology (IST) lecturer, regularly invites alumni and colleagues to interact with students. So when he put out the word that junior and senior IST majors planned to present their final projects, his network showed up to offer support and feedback.

The student teams constructed solutions from back end to front end, and the experts in the audience dissected every aspect from design to project management to presentation.

A team from IST421: Advanced Enterprise Integration developed a website for psychology researchers, using an application they hadn't even learned in class.

"They went rogue on me. They did a great job but went off on their own," Oakes laughed. "I'm okay with the technology as long as they can pull it off."

"We hit students with new technology so they can adapt. It's expected on the job that you bring what you know and figure out what you need to know. The IST program makes you a flexible, adaptable problem solver."

-- Joe Oakes, IST faculty

The team admitted to struggling a little with client communications since they haven't had much contact with live customers.

"We were speaking different languages so we had to learn to interact," one student said.

Client lead Michael Bernstein, an Abington assistant psychology professor, disagreed with their assessment.

"I was truly shocked at just how professional they were," Bernstein said. "They walked me through the process, and the end product is going to be better than if I stuck with just my original ideas,"

An expert in the audience suggested the students enmesh themselves with their clients in the future.

"Then you can think and talk like the user," he said. "I credit some of my most successful projects to working in this way."

IST students
Image: Regina Broscius

Senior teams in the IST440W (integrations and problems solving) capstone presented confidence engines they developed with newer applications, making predictions about gas prices among others.

"We hit students with new technology so they can adapt," Oakes said. "It's expected on the job that you bring what you know and figure out what you need to know. The IST program makes you a flexible, adaptable problem solver."

Contacts: 

Regina Broscius