The Herald-Times

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014 5:37 pm | Updated: 11:31 pm, Sat Jun 14, 2014.

By MJ Slaby 812-331-4371 |

“What do you want from our students, your future employees?”

Ivy Tech Community College asked this question to businesses hiring in computer and information technology fields.

The most popular answers: graduates with hands-on experience, and graduates who have soft skills such as public speaking.

Using those answers as well as other recommendations from employers, Ivy Tech Community College created a new School of Computing and Informatics with programs beginning in August.

The new school is home to eight degree programs, whereas before, there were four IT degrees offered within the School of Business.

It’s a statewide initiative to redesign Ivy Tech’s computer-related offerings, said Brad Thurmond, Ivy Tech Bloomington vice chancellor of academic affairs. He said the new programs will give students a deeper understanding and stronger skill set in a specific area so they are more employable and more valuable to employers.

“The degrees were too general,” said Chris Carroll, the department chairman in Bloomington for the new school. “The new degrees are beefed up.”

Seven of the eight degrees are brand new and come from areas that were once within a single degree, Carroll said. For example, computer information systems is now divided into degrees in software development, informatics and database management and administration.

The other new degrees are cyber security-information assurance, server administration, information technology support and network infrastructure. Computer science is a degree that already existed and will stay, because it’s meant for students to use to transfer, Carroll said.

To start, Ivy Tech Bloomington will offer all the programs except for database management and administration, Carroll said. However, he said students could still take their core classes in Bloomington as well as other classes online for that degree, before having to take a class or two at another campus.

Each of the Ivy Tech campuses will offer some of the programs, but not all of them, based on what works best for their regions, Thurmond said.

Current students will be able to use what they have toward these new degrees, Carroll said.

IT changes quickly, and the former degrees weren’t keeping up, Carroll said. So the newer degrees are much more specialized.

“We really upped the rigor on them,” Carroll said.

The Ivy Tech State Board of Trustees this week allocated funding for the Bloomington campus in several areas, including the hiring of one faculty member, which will most likely be for the new programs. The board also allocated funds for computer equipment, said Jennie Vaughan, Ivy Tech Bloomington chancellor.

In Bloomington, students will have a new “live lab” to give them experience working on actual production and for real companies, Carroll said.

Companies want new hires who have experience installing a server and not just doing it virtually, he said. And they also want people who can make presentations and are able to talk to customers.

“The days of the IT person being the geek in the basement are over,” Carroll said.

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.