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Ivy Tech ramps up technology curriculum

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Computer and information technology leaders want to hire graduates with both technical and soft skills.

That is what they told a statewide advisory board formed by Ivy Tech Community College in an effort to revamp the school’s computer courses.

And that is why the Ivy Tech system has launched a new School of Computing and Informatics, which will offer three face-to-face programs at the Columbus campus beginning in August. The programs are software development, information technology support and computer security/information assurance.

Some information technology degrees were offered through the School of Business previously, but Ivy Tech officials said the new programs are more hands-on and create workforce-relevant career pathways.

“They’re more difficult; there’s more content,” said Pam Schmelz, department chair and associate professor. “The curriculum has really been beefed up.”

The software development program prepares students to develop, test, implement and maintain the computer programs people use every day on their computers, tablets, smartphones and game consoles. Employment of software developers is projected to grow 22 percent through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as tech users demand more apps and better programs.

Students will learn how to diagnose and solve practical computer-related issues in the information technology support program. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that field is projected to grow 17 percent in the next eight years as organizations and individuals upgrade their devices and software.

To prevent hackers from creating havoc on computer networks, students in the computer security/information assurance program will learn digital security and protection measures through ethical hacking and coding. Schmelz said she finds those classes the most fun, and also the most in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that field to grow 37 percent by 2022.

“Employment in the field of computing and informatics is strong and expected to grow,” said Dave Donnell, interim dean of the School of Business. “We are pleased to offer these new programs to area residents who want to be part of this exciting field.”

Ryan Hou, co-founder and CEO of LHP Software, said Ivy Tech has been the best partner the company has had and helps in training employees with technical and soft skills.

The software developer has hired Ivy Tech graduates in the past, and Hou said he is sure the updated curriculum will better equip students with the skills they need going into the workforce.

“That would benefit not just us but every company in town,” Hou said.

With the new programs will come new faculty members and new equipment at some point in the future. Schmelz hopes the school will expand to five labs and five faculty members, although she expects enrollment to be slow at first.

The school will offer an Associate of Applied Science degree, which is intended to land students jobs directly upon graduation, and an Associate of Science degree, which will transfer to four-year institutions.

Students also can pursue certificates — which are evidence to employers of certain skills mastered — through the school.

“It’s going to be a wild couple of years as we start rolling out the courses,” Schmelz said. “Yes, it’s going to be challenging. But it’s going to be fun.”

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