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IT forum focuses on next-generation education, careers

March 24, 2009

KALAMAZOO--The registration deadline is approaching for the eighth annual Information Technology Forum Friday, April 3, at Western Michigan University.

Running from 7:30 a.m. to 3:50 p.m. in the Fetzer Center, the forum will feature addresses by two keynote speakers, the presentation of "e-Firm" projects by two WMU student teams, company-student interviews and three panel discussions on a variety of information technology topics.

The registration deadline is March 31. The forum is open to the public, but geared toward West Michigan businesses, non-profit organizations and WMU students, faculty and staff.

"The forum's theme, 'IT Education and Careers 2.0,' conveys the focus of this year's event, which is very student-centered and strongly motivated by regional business companies," says Dr. Mike Tarn, WMU professor of business information systems, who is chairing the event. "We want to explore the next generation of IT education and student career opportunities for the 21st century."

In keeping with the theme, a highlight of the forum will be the inaugural presentation of WMU student e-Firm projects. The revolutionary projects, conducted by two teams of computer information systems students will showcase work the students completed for two West Michigan businesses--BlueGranite and Steelcase. The teams will present their projects from 10 to 11:25 a.m.

Keynote speakers for the forum are John Dean, executive information technology advisor for the Information Technology Management Association, and Ann Harten, vice president of global information systems and human resources for Haworth Inc.

Dean will address "IT Education 2.0" starting at 8:40 a.m. and will provide insights into a new educational approach needed to produce business-ready talent. The discussion will focus on the broader set of competencies and skills for talent now required by employers within all disciplines, including the IT profession.

Dean is currently an independent advisor focused on working with leaders of organizations to produce improved results through the successful implementation of change. He has more than 30 years of experience leading technology, process and talent evolution and innovation for the manufacturing, transportation and the public sectors. He retired from Steelcase Inc. in July 2008 after 24 years with the company.

Harten, vice president of global information systems and human resources at Haworth Inc., will speak at 12:50 p.m. and address "IT careers 2.0." Harten will provide insights into careers within information technology and how these roles are critical to today's business environment. Corporations depend heavily upon a valuable foundation of technology solutions. But they are not as effective without the right team members designing and implementing them.

Harten assumed her current role at Haworth Inc. in 2008 and leads the integration of business systems, supporting technologies and human resources on a global scale. She began her career at Haworth in 2005 as vice president of global information services after serving as senior vice president and chief information officer for SIRVA Inc. in Westmont, Ill.

The forum's featured e-Firm projects are the first of their kind.

"This is the first project in the history of American computer information systems programs where more than 125 students from six different courses concurrently created an industry-oriented project, involving a complex enterprise information system in a professional work environment," says Dr. Andrew Targowski, WMU professor of business information systems, who was the faculty advisor for the BlueGranite team.

The BlueGranite team was charged with developing a management "dashboard" or panel highlighting key indicators for a vice-president of sales, while the Steelcase team developed a Web dashboard that monitors business processes across the entire Steelcase organization, including international offices. Dr. Alan Rea, associate professor of business information systems, was the Steelcase team's advisor.

Cost and registration details are available on the Information Technology Forum Web site. To register, click "register now" in the left column. For more information, call WMU's Department of Business Information Systems at (269) 387-5410.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400