IST History: The Creation of a Discipline
Beginning in 1997 with a visionary challenge from Penn State President Graham Spanier, the creation of what is now known as the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) all started from a fifteen-member group, lead by then-dean of the Graduate School, Rod Erickson. The then-plan was to have IST as a school, with its curriculum focused on topics dealing with the Information Age.
In August 1999, the doors opened for the first IST students at Penn State locations statewide. Over a few years, the school developed rapidly through the formation of research collaborations, creation of online courses, expansion of faculty members, establishment of graduate programs and the planning of the IST building.
In May 2003 baccalaureate degrees were conferred on Penn State’s first full graduating IST class. Later that year, the IST building was completed and was formally opened in 2004, making it one of Penn State’s landmarks.
The school of IST was renamed the College of IST by the Penn State Board of Trustees in January 2006 – a designation that signified IST’s importance within both the Penn State system and the Commonwealth.
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.