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Rene Robinson

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IT Directorate Employee

United States Army

"Managing an IT department is a different animal – it really does need its own master's program. Ambrose's classes address the four major areas of concern every IT department faces: portfolio and information management; information assurance; application development; and operations. I can't think of even one class that wasn't necessary for my education."

How to succeed

"Be prepared to dedicate yourself to the program. For every hour in class, I spent three hours reading, studying and internalizing the material. As an undergraduate student, I memorized and regurgitated what I read. But in the MSITM program, I learned how to apply everything to my job."

After nine years of programming for the Army, René enrolled in the MSITM program to transition to the management side of information technology. "I needed to learn the processes that non-IT businesses use to understand and motivate employees. Not only does the curriculum address all the major issues in IT management, we get meaningful, hands-on experience." Now she's taken on more responsibilities; René manages websites and oversees application development contracts for an Army Information Management Directorate.

Having earned undergraduate degrees in secondary education and computer programming at Western Illinois University, she found the level of faculty commitment and small class size at Ambrose made for a more personal experience. "I've made valuable, lasting connections with my professors and classmates."

In her own words

Which faculty member has made an impact?

All the MSITM professors are very knowledgeable and current on the latest technologies. They have so much experience to share, from levels of fail-safes at a nuclear plant to document management to nursing ethics.

Professor Gary Monnard is an inspiration to me because he's reinvented himself late in life. After his career in nursing ethics, he earned his degree in computer science, and now he applies the same ethics to teaching IT ethics. At the same time, he serves on a number of outreach committees at the university. I've found that if you love what you're doing, you're fully engaged. In the future, I'd like to earn a PhD and teach as well.

What's one of the most valuable things you've learned?

The classes Project Management and Control, Systems Analysis in the Enterprise and Management of Information Technology are a must for any IT manager. They gave me a good foundation in the scope and history of IT management. It's difficult to understand why IT business is run the way it is unless you know the trends in IT over the last 50 years. It's become more distributed, networked and flexible in development methods because of object orientation, the use of inheritance and the adoption of modern analysis methodologies. Systems engineering practices do not "translate" definitively or neatly to IT programming, but a lot can be learned from studying and applying planning techniques and lifecycle management concepts.

What's the most memorable project you've done?

In Computers and Commerce we had to pick a local business and redesign its website so it's easy to navigate and better communicates the company's ideas and goals. My group chose the Figge Art Museum, which opened a couple years before I took the class. We redesigned the website using lighter colors and more user-friendly menus. We also recommended revising the mission statement to include the education of the public, not just conservation of the artwork.

We shared our ideas with the new museum director. Since then, Figge's site has been redesigned, its mission statement revised and the museum reaches out to the community. Local artists sell and display in its gift shop and the museum uses kid-friendly guides.

What have you done in this program that you never expected to do?

I learned the nuts and bolts of digital data in my advanced networking class-how data moves down a wire, and how that movement affects signals and setups. Now I understand why networks are put together the way they are.

I've also honed my writing and communication skills with all the presentations and papers we do. I can get my thoughts across clearly. I can stand and deliver on any topic!

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