IST History: The Creation of a Discipline
The School of Information Sciences and Technology was founded in 1997 and approved by the Board of Trustees in 1998 based on a need perceived by the University and advisors from government and industry for educating students in the emerging field of information science and technology.
The goal was to extend beyond classic computer science, management information systems, and library science to prepare students to meet challenges in the use of computers and networked systems for applications such as medicine, business, homeland security, environmental monitoring, and control of complex systems.
The School was charged with producing graduates who would have basic knowledge of information technologies (e.g., computer programming, discrete mathematics, database concepts, and understanding of information system concepts) as well as the capability to work in teams to understand how information technologies can be utilized in real applications involving individuals, organizations, and ultimately national or global enterprises.
The School was renamed as a College (upon approval of the Board of Trustees) in 2006. We hosted the first conference of the i-School community in September 2005.
The IST Building
Formally opened in 2004, the Information Sciences and Technology (IST) Building at Penn State University Park is a striking 199,000 square-foot structure whose sweeping lines stir the imagination of passersby. Its creators–Rafael Vinoly Architects, New York, and Perfido Weiskopf Architects, Pittsburgh—were inspired by the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.
Classroom spaces utilize a state-of-the-art telecommunications and multimedia infrastructure to meet the unique needs of today’s digital students. Each of our eight classrooms has been individually configured to impact different types of learning experiences. Among our classrooms, the principal location is the Cybertorium, which seats 150 people and employs the latest technology to facilitate group learning and discussion. Innovative technology also is instrumental in our research facilities, such as in the new three-dimensional, full-immersion, visualization laboratory, where researchers are studying new ways to view and conceptualize data and information.
To encourage collaboration, there are a number of open gathering spaces designed for faculty, staff, and students to meet. The entire building features wireless capabilities that encourage groups to move freely within the space while being connected to the Internet and other Web-based services.