Dr. Bhuvan Unhelkar

USF Sarasota-Manatee to further enhance its IT program

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: May 31, 2016

SARASOTA, Fla. (May 31, 2016)USF Sarasota-Manatee is bolstering its Information Technology program for the fall after substantially investing in the program the previous academic year.

After investing more than $80,000 in new servers, drivers and software, the campus is strengthening its IT curriculum for the fall semester starting Aug. 22 by adding two additional core courses and a “Big Data” concentration.

Overall, the new courses are expected to improve students’ technical knowledge while helping them to develop a greater understanding of business and professional integrity.

“We are focusing on ethics and professional behavior in addition to the technical skills,” Dr. Bhuvan Unhelkar, associate professor of Information Technology, said. “This will enable our graduates to perform well in their ‘real life’ industrial assignments as these changes aim to make our students well-rounded professionals.”

The changes reflect the campus’ emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as well as its long-term strategic plan to address regional workforce needs. The new courses apply both to the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and Bachelor of Science in Applied Science degree programs. Both of those programs come under the campus’ College of Business.

In addition, this fall the campus will add a Big Data concentration with three new courses to address regional employers’ growing demand for graduates with Big Data skills. “Big Data” refers to technologies that enable in-depth analytics of extremely large data sets.

“We have successfully appointed a tenured-track, full-time position to enable us to offer these new courses, and we are in close touch with the local industry to ensure our students get the best opportunities for internships in the fall semester, ” Dr. Unhelkar said.

The curriculum changes resulted from the recommendations of a campus advisory committee that surveyed industry leaders, local chambers of commerce and economic development boards about regional employers’ current and future workforce needs.

Currently, about 175 students are enrolled in the campus’ IT degree programs. However, it’s anticipated that these curriculum changes may boost IT enrollment by 10 to 20 percent during the next few years.

“We are committed to building a very strong program in Information Technology and giving our students the best and most useful education we can,” Dr. James Curran, dean of the College of Business, said. “We have invested in technology and have been working hard to attract outstanding faculty. Dr. Unhelkar came halfway around the world from Australia to join us and brought a wealth of experience and expertise with him. We have other IT faculty joining us for the fall semester.

“Moving the IT program into the College of Business has also allowed us to exploit the synergies that exist with our outstanding faculty in Information Systems,” he said. “The new Big Data concentration would not have been possible without that synergy. We are excited about what the future holds for this program.”

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