Dean's Welcome | College of Information Sciences and Technology
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Dean's Welcome

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A note from Dean Andrew Sears

Andrew SearsThe College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) at Penn State is dedicated to educating the next generation of leaders for the digital 21st century. Our student-centric, problem-based learning approach allows us to deliver a curriculum which is continuously updated to ensure it addresses the rapidly evolving information technologies that are changing the way we work, communicate, socialize, and play.

Our undergraduate and graduate students are highly creative and, as an integral part of their education, they work on real-world problems from industry, government, and non-profits. IST students participate in international relief activities such as working with the Ministry of Education at Grenada and repairing computers damaged by Hurricane Ivan. In addition, they have designed and implemented healthcare solutions for rural Africa, won international competitions sponsored by Google, supported the U.S. Department of Defense in understanding how the new generation of digital natives collaborate and solve problems, placed in the top ten (out of 3800 teams) in a national competition funded by the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA), and one of our doctoral students won a national plagiarism detection competition. Our graduates obtain challenging and well-paying jobs with large and small companies, and government agencies including Capitol One, U.S. Department of Transportation, Google, U.S. Marine Corps, Microsoft and Verizon Wireless.And a growing number of our graduates are taking the entrepreneurial path and starting their own companies. Perhaps the most exciting thing about this trend is the unpredictable array of industries that our graduates are impacting. Weebly was founded in 2006 by three Penn State graduates, and it now supports over 20 million web sites with more than 140 million users each month. Analytical Flavor Systems, founded by a 2015 IST graduate, provides tools to support artisan beverage producers as they work to ensure the quality of their products. Tuft & Needle, co-founded by an IST graduate, is a successful online mattress retailer, while Candid Career, also co-founded by an IST graduate, provides videos where people share inside information about different careers, with the goal of allowing job seekers to learn from the experiences of others.

IST research and education is motivated by the fact that so much of what we do is fueled by and dependent upon vast flows of information. Information systems are all around us. Cell phones, smart cards, and nano-scale sensing devices are ubiquitous and computers are embedded in everything from appliances to automobiles. These technologies allow us to gather and analyze vast quantities of information, they connect people throughout the world, they allow us to make better decisions and to deliver better products, and ultimately they change the way people work, socialize, and entertain themselves. We can do things today that were little more than science fiction not that too far in the past. While these technologies can and do have a dramatic and positive impact on the way people live, they can also be used to invade our privacy, enable anonymous cyber-bullying, and coordinate criminal and terrorist activities. Information technologies have changed, and will continue to change, the way people live.

Our faculty and students are engaged in research that creates new businesses, helps businesses and individuals solve problems more effectively, and empowers individuals by providing new ways to connect and communicate. We also engage in research that improves the underlying technologies as well as projects focused on ensuring our privacy and securing both the information and technologies that are so vital in today's digital world. Whether you are a prospective or current student, a potential partner, or a colleague from another discipline or institution, I invite you to learn more about us by taking the time to browse our website and contacting us for further information about our degree programs, our research, or other areas where people, technology, and information intersect.