Jan. 30, 2023

This paid piece sponsored by Dakota State University.

A professor skilled in computer information systems is someone who brings solutions to businesses.

“Computer information systems focuses on solving business problems using practical applications of technology,” said Andy Behrens, coordinator of the undergraduate CIS program and an assistant professor at Dakota State University.

The CIS major at DSU has three specializations: business analytics, application development and project management. While students in the program learn about all three specializations, they choose one to focus on.

“Students focusing on business analytics will learn about big data, predictive analytics, business production operation and how to work with SQL databases,” Behrens said. “The students will learn the process of extracting the data, analyzing it and presenting it meaningfully. A graduate from our program can effectively analyze any data the business generates.”

In the project management specialization, students learn how to plan, develop and execute information systems and technology projects in the business domain. They develop skills in planning, budgeting, scheduling, developing effective strategies, managing stakeholders and resource management.

“Application development focuses on developing applications for businesses,” Behrens explained. “Our specialization will teach students how to develop full-stack applications. This allows them to work either on the front end — the visible, client-facing side — or the back end — the server side in the background.”

Students in this specialization also learn to develop applications through the methodologies of waterfall, or linearly, and agile, or breaking up a project into several phases.

According to Behrens, students who graduate from the CIS program typically pursue careers in fields that involve computers and information technology to help solve business problems.

“CIS majors learn to use a variety of systems, software and programming languages, which can be applied in a variety of industries,” he said.

Those industries include finance, health care, government, education and manufacturing. Some examples of positions in those fields include systems analyst, data analyst, database administrator, web developer, information technology project manager and application developer.

Business analytics

Lizzy Elder always knew she wanted to enter the computer field but didn’t want to do all the complicated math often associated with computer science majors.

Elder said the computer information systems major has two sides: the computer side and the business side.

She finds that the major provides the perfect amount of computer classes and learning how to program without getting too in depth. Then, adding courses like accounting and statistics help tie together the business aspect of the program.

“It shows how everything is really connected in the real world,” she said.

Elder appreciates the foundational knowledge she has learned in programming and the variety of business courses, including operations management, big data and marketing, which help her understand how companies work and function.

“Every single company, everywhere you look — it doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny company or a big company — will need to analyze data,” she said. “It’s everywhere. So learning how to work with the data and be profitable and profit off it is super important to companies.”

Application development

The application development specialization of a CIS degree “ties application development into the databases that store information to the websites that users and employees interact with,” explained Ben Batie, a senior in the program.

“Application development students learn what information to collect with our systems and send the data to the business leaders, giving them much-needed information for their decisions,” he added. “Without application development, businesses would have to make uninformed decisions.”

Through his time in the program, Batie has learned how much a properly designed system can learn to help customers.

“Realizing this helped shed light on why application development focuses so much on how projects should be designed to make the most of information for the business,” he said.

Batie recommends a CIS degree for those interested in business and computers.

“The blend of business and computers puts students at a unique advantage, learning to use computers to boost businesses with better information for better decision-making,” he said.

Project management

“The project management specialization portion of my degree has been my favorite part of studying at DSU,” said Erik Wold, senior CIS project management major. “It requires 18 credit hours of classes covering a wide range of topics, including structured systems analysis and design, software development methodologies, management technology and human resources management.”

Wold shared that Dr. Cherie Noteboom, professor and coordinator of the doctorate program in information systems, is influential in his studies because of her positivity and the engagement she provides her students.

“Her knowledge of project management and significant experience in management information systems has made her stand out as the professor I’ve learned the most from during my time at DSU,” Wold said.

Additionally, he has found Behrens’ passion for teaching and ability to clearly explain complex topics inspiring, noting that his courses are favorites.

Natalya VanOrmer, a recent graduate with a CIS major specializing in project management, said Behrens has been hugely influential. She had one course related to data analytics with Behrens. “I found myself genuinely challenged in the best way and fascinated by the material he presented,” she said.

For  information on Dakota State’s College of Business & Information Systems and its offerings, visit DSU’s College of BIS.

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