Public presentation of projects designed to help nonprofit agencies

Local nonprofit agencies are reaping the rewards of Penn State Berks Information Sciences & Technology class projects. Students enrolled in two IST classes will present their final class projects, which focus on helping local nonprofit agencies meet an existing need. These presentations are open to the public.

The Integration and Problem Solving class will present their projects on Monday, May 5, 2014, from 6:00?7:50 p.m. in room 244 of the Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building. The focus of this class is to provide IT infrastructure design services. This year's clients include The Reading Berks Conference of Churches, Habitat for Humanity, and Kyle's Quillows, as well as a Penn State Berks Education project titled ?Response to School Violence Plan.?

The Usability Engineering class works with local nonprofit organizations to design and implement websites for their organization. This involves working with their clients, determining their organization needs and goals, then designing a website to meet those goals. This year their clients are the Berks History Center and the Lions Club. They will present the websites on Wednesday, May 7, 2014, from 4:00?5:50 in room 206 of the Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building.

Bill Bowers, Senior Lecturer in IST, teaches both courses. He solicits potential clients from Penn State Berks faculty and staff. He also promotes the projects to potential clients that he meets in the community. Then, he compiles the list of potential clients and provides them to the students, who are also free to recommend or solicit clients. The project teams vote and select their clients.

The Integration and Problem Solving class is the senior capstone course for both IST and Security Risk & Analysis. Most of the students in this class will be graduating this semester. The Usability Engineering class is also composed mostly of students graduating this semester.

According to Bowers, these projects have a number of positive aspects as learning experiences, and also foster a sense of community among students.

?Our students gain significant experience working with actual clients on real-world projects,? explains Bowers. ?The projects frequently take unexpected twists and turns, requiring them to adapt and change course to meet their client's needs. Working with actual clients requires interpersonal skills and an understanding of the competing priorities, goals, and deadlines that affect their project.?

?Students are also working with clients that, in all likelihood, have little or no budget for implementation. They are also unlikely to have full-time IT support and may have mostly part-time, unpaid volunteers on their staff. Our students may be expected to do quite a bit, with only very limited resources.?

For more information on the IST class projects, contact Bowers at 610-396-6276 or via e-mail at [email protected].