When you think of the term “information technology,” the image you most likely get in your head is a person who solves computer problems in an office setting. And while you can learn how to service computers, at Mizzou Engineering, IT means so much more.
The IT Program at Mizzou is in its 13th year and is continuing steady growth in terms of students, course offerings and more. And while the program offers a world-class education in terms of solving software and hardware problems for other users, Mizzou IT also has an incredibly robust software development track, a high-quality cybersecurity curricula and cutting-edge courses in all aspects of media technology and design.
“We are developing areas in software development and have been offering a solid track in media technology,” Assistant Professor of Practice and Director of Undergraduate Studies Brian Maurer said. “Most people, when they think of IT, they don’t think about media technology and the systems required to implement our media environment today.”
Software development at Mizzou IT encompasses several areas. The IT Program offers a variety of courses in programming, programming languages, mobile app development for both iOS and Android devices, web design and more.
And, to add flexibility for IT students, more than a dozen courses currently are offered online. Associate Teaching Professor Dale Musser, along with the rest of the faculty, has been tasked with building a robust online course portfolio, including: Introduction to Information Technology, Introduction to Problem Solving and Programming, Introduction to Entertainment Media, Digital Multimedia, Audio/Video I, Digital Effects, Programming Languages & Paradigms, iOS App Development I, iOS App Development II, Responsive Website Development & Design, and C#/.NET Development.
“If you have the opportunity to come [to MU] and experience it, we encourage you to do that,” Musser said. “But if you can’t do that, we don’t want that to be a barrier.”
The goal is to launch a fully-online bachelor’s degree in IT next fall.
“We aggressively teach courses online. We have more than a dozen online courses being offered right now,” Director of IT Program Dong Xu said.
Cybersecurity is a critical area in the IT field presently, and alongside of the courses Mizzou offers in the area, IT Program faculty Ronny Bazan Antequera and Aaron Scantlin are building a hardware hacking and security lab in Naka Hall to better serve student’s needs.
“Students will be able to work with a variety of tools to build, repair and troubleshoot hardware components, as well as learn how to connect to and interact with them,” XU said. “Additionally, students will have access to some of the latest and greatest hardware to perform research on both physical and wireless network security. An isolated server space hosting intentionally vulnerable VMs allows for the up-and-coming penetration testers or the security-conscious web application developers to exploit vulnerable systems without putting any university assets at risk.”
Not everybody thinks of audio and visual media when they think of IT. MU Engineering is out to change that.
Maurer and fellow Assistant Professor of Practice Chip Gubera are the key faculty players in terms of the media technology track. Both have directed and worked on award-winning feature films and spend their time at Mizzou training the next generation in all manner of aspects of the film and television industries through courses and an annual study abroad program. That includes the ins and outs of camera work, sound, audio and video editing, storyboarding and more.
“We have these courses in basic digital effects, live composition, and we just facilitated a great new partnership to have a really cool new studio space where students do live television shows using industry standard equipment,” Maurer explained. “We really kind of push them out there so they’re going to be employable once they leave us.”
On top of the work going on inside the classroom and online, MU IT students recently formed their own IT Student Organization Council and a Virtual Reality club. The IT Program also recently hosted its own advising day to recruit interested students and allow them to talk directly to faculty members who teach the courses they have interest in.
The IT Program is poised for great success in its teenage years and beyond.
“We’re trying to redefine the modern definition of Information Technology,” Maurer said.