Dr. Brenda Wilson with her crew of volunteers from Women in Computing at the Tent City - 2011 Homecoming

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  • Programming, Database Are Top Skills for IT Pros on Wall Street

    by Darryl K Taft

    If you are looking for a job on Wall Street, IT skills are the way to go, particularly programming and database expertise, according to a recent study conducted by a leading career site network for the financial services industry. eFinancialCareers, a global career site network for professionals working in the investment banking, asset management and securities industries, recently released its top 10 skills searches on Wall Street, and programming and databases skills come out on top

    Read the whole story at eWeek

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  • Digicrits goes live!

    It is immensely satisfying for teachers to see their students take an idea and carry it to a finished product or service. Digicrits is one such business. Last Spring Aaron Tribou (CIS) and Brenon Conn (Business major, Art minor) came together in the CIS420 class with the intention of taking Conn's digital social network idea to a proof-of-concept.

    Digicrits is a facebook-like social network where members share their photography, graphic design, illustrations, and more. Digicrits provides a platform for those images to be rated. Artists, photographers, or just anybody who wants to share their best Instagram photos can do so and be rated and commented on by the digicrits community. It has all the elements of a modern digital social network with a focus on art and images.

    Members of teh DigiCrits team

    As instructor, Dr. Raj often looks for projects that have an immediate benefit to the project sponsor. "CIS420 is the capstone course for all CIS  majors and is intended to give students as near a 'real world' experience as possible. Brenon had been after me from the previous term (Fall 2011) looking for a developer who could take his 'baby' and 'birth' it."

    Seeing his persistence and energy Dr. Raj offered to take it up in the following term if the students in the class would be interested. He pitched the idea to Aaron Tribou who was the only one needing CIS420 and then introduced him to Brenon Conn. Tribou agreed to take up the challenge although he knew that he was going to be the sole developer in the 2-person team. Raj asked Conn to sign up for the Special Problems (CIS585) class and work with Tribou.

    After weeks of discussing the pros/cons of various tools and programming languages, Tribou, Conn and Raj settled on PhP for the programming language and MySQL for the database - both available for no cost. During this time the team also firmed up on the scope of the project and a schedule for project "deliverables".

    Tribou did all the technical work - programming, database and project management while Conn dealt with the user interface, the styling, and pretty much anything to do with graphics. Raj kept both on track with deadlines and played the "devil's advocate" for many of the design decisions.

    The project was completed on schedule and demonstrated at the annual CSIS awards banquet on April 21, 2012 at Barkley room in Curris Center. The participating students and the members of the CSIS Advisory Board present were blown away by the demo.  Several of the Advisory Board members spoke privately to Conn and Tribou and encouraged them to take it to the next stage and go commercial. The demo also caught the attention of some students who asked Tribou and Conn if they could participate in additional development.

    By the end of the Spring term, Digicrits became a legal entity with Conn as the Chief Executive Officer and Tribou as Chief Technology Officer.  Conn and Tribou asked Dr Raj about hiring student interns for the summer with the idea of going live in August. Once the internship terms were finalized, Tribou and Conn conducted a series of interviews and settled on Ben Hester (CSC) and Yasha Yang (MSIS) as student interns.

    The new team was faced with the challenge of learning PhP, MySQL (and related tools) as well as mastering AJAX and CSS.  On his experience, Ben Hester had this to say, "I feel I learned a great deal about developing in a professional environment. I learned how to develop with a team, when to ask questions and how to combine code from different sources into one project [using version control]."

    During this time Conn was actively involved in the legal, testing, design, promotion aspects of the project as well as the morale and coordination between members of the team. His optimism and leadership were essential elements of the whole venture.

    Earlier in the term Conn participated in the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development's State Business Plan Competition and won second place for his Business Plan. In a letter to the Dean of the College, the Team sponsor, Mr Steve Dublin - Lecturer in Management - said, "He (Conn) could not have missed first place [by] much, his plan and presentation was outstanding. His winning prize money was nearly $8000.  It should be noted that Victor Raj has mentored Brenon and has been a great influence".

    This is an example of cross-disciplinary interests coming together in a University setting with several teachers and courses contributing to the birth (and delivery) of a finished product. It needed Art, Business, Technology - programming, database design, Web scripting - entrepreneurship as well as teachers willing to take on challenging projects even if they cannot follow the norm and structure of a traditional 3-credit class.

    Raj noted that Conn and Tribou met on campus every Tuesday and Thursday for 75 minutes (sometimes more) even if they knew they could accomplish the same from their home. "They definitely put in a LOT more than what is typically required of a 3-credit class. The class had no homework assignments or tests and yet they progressed by setting targets and deadlines; they certainly learned a lot. The class was a true 'real-world' experience for these two young men".

    "Of course the driving force is the well-motivated student. Both Aaron and Brenon fit this bill perfectly."

    As part of the internship, Ben had to write a 10-page paper summarizing his experience. He notes, "Probably one of the most important things I’ve done during this internship is make mistakes—mistakes that could have been disastrous on a much larger project and cost me my job. However these are mistakes that I won’t make again because I’ve learned proper procedures when dealing with version control, working with a team and how to utilize my time correctly if I ever find myself stuck on one particular portion of a task."

    Yasha and Ben under the leadership of Tribou and the gentle prodding of Conn worked hard and finally released the application on August 3, 2012. It is quite a change from the original proof-of-concept hosted on the department's Linux server to the first release on shared hosting off campus. Depending on funding availability, the team will eventually move to a dedicated server.

    This is truly a remarkable story of hard work, diligence, team work and passion. The CSIS department is proud to recognize this young team for their efforts. Dr. Raj's wish is that Murray State continue to provide the environment that facilitated and produced such trail blazers.

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  • [Computer Science] Students represent Kentucky at Clemson Cyberinfrastructure program


    Shawn Edwards and Brandon Hall [Computer Science seniors] are two of only three students in Kentucky to have been chosen to attend the EPSCoR Cyberinfrastructure Student Engagement Program at Clemson University in South Carolina. They will begin the program by spending three days starting February 21 at Clemson. Representing Murray State University, they will attend a kick-off/orientation meeting and workshop then will continue the program through bi-weekly webinars.

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  • The tech jobs hiring boom is real -- for these skills

     By Bill Snyder (InfoWorld)

    "It's not a myth. The technology industry is in the midst of a hiring surge stronger than any we've seen since the days of the dot-com boom. InfoWorld's interviews with economists, technology executives, job seekers, and hiring board managers indicate that employment in the tech sector is up a solid 10 percent this year -- by some bullish estimates, closer to 20 percent. And despite the tendency of the media to fixate on California's Silicon Valley, the hottest job markets are in places like New York and Washington, D.C., where firms in financial services and the federal government hire droves of IT hands.

    But don't make the mistake of thinking that jobs are going begging. They are not. Landing a position as a programmer, developer, database analyst, or support desk jockey still takes the right experience, the right education, and a willingness to chart a new career path when necessary

    Read the whole article here

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  • Want a job interview with Facebook? here, try this test...

    Saw this come through my in-box today... a challenge for our potential (or even current) Computer Science majors

     "<snip>No, you don't need a degree. Facebook couldn't care less if you graduated from high school. And showing up for the test in faded blue jeans or a natty bow tie won't help one whit. All you need is an Internet connection, a Web browser, and an IQ that'd boil water. In Fahrenheit.

    You also need to know C, C++, Java, Python, Perl, Ruby, C#, or PHP. No, you don't need to know all of them. Pick your poison."

    Read the rest of the post ("Ace this test and get a job interview with Facebook")

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  • Median Earnings by Major and Subject Area

    Interesting article at the Chronicle of Higher Education on the economic value of a bachelor's degree. Median Salaraies for CSIS majors

    "The economic value of a bachelor’s degree varies by college major. New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that median earnings run from $29,000 for counseling-psychology majors to $120,000 for petroleum-engineering majors. Even when majors are looked at by groups, such as business or health, there is variation in pay depending on the specific major."

    Read the whole article

    [Original Source: "What’s It Worth? The Economic Value of College Majors" from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce]

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