> a computer college

Introducing the College of Computer & Information Sciences

What happens when superheroes combine their unique individual talents to fight for a common cause?

They usually end up saving the world.

You might say the same about Regis’ College of Computer & Information Sciences.

Bringing together the superb faculty and diverse resources from the School of Computer & Information Sciences in the College for Professional Studies, the Computer Science program in Regis College, and the Health Information Management program in the Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions, the newly formed college aims to transform the world, one well-trained student at a time.

“With good education and mentoring, our students can use technology to better the human condition, to improve lives – and even save them.”

greater than a job

The computer and information technology field is projected to add more than 800,000 jobs by 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2018, it is estimated that there will be 2.4 million STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) job openings.

In other words: there will be plenty of jobs. And Regis students and graduates will be primed to get them. But the new college is about more than just jobs. It’s about changing people’s lives and the world.

“Computers are tools used to solve human problems,” said Richard Blumenthal, Ph.D., chair of the Computer Science Department. “With good education and mentoring, our students can use technology to better the human condition, to improve lives – and even save them.”

He cites a recent example in which a lost hiker was spotted with the use of drone technology, something that would have been impossible even a few years ago.

Sheila Carlon, Ph.D., chair of the Health Information Management Department, tells a similar story.

“In the days of paper medical records, information was difficult to access. It was sometimes lost or misinterpreted, which led to devastating outcomes,” she said. “The management, security and efficient delivery of this information helps doctors make good decisions for patients.”

Technology doesn’t just save lives. It protects them. Think: identity theft.

Last year’s credit card information breach at Target or the recent Heartbleed bug had people scrambling to contact banks and change passwords. The theft of personal information presents major challenges. That’s where Dan Likarish, director for the Center on Information Assurance Studies, and his past, present and future students come in.

“We are on the front line of preventing the next big crisis,” Likarish said. “That’s no easy task. We need to make sure our students are more skilled and savvy than their adversaries.”

From cyber security to electronic medical systems, from computer programming to analysis of big data, Regis’ College of Computer & Information Sciences will prepare students to tackle the challenges of our modern world.

“They offer the perfect combination of academic and industry experience.”

greater than the sum of its parts

When great minds come together, great things happen. And the new college features a remarkable collection of minds.

“The quality of the faculty is impressive,” said Shari Plantz-Masters, Ph.D., interim assistant dean. “They offer the perfect combination of academic and industry experience.”

Bringing together those minds and a host of well-established programs enhances student learning by allowing for a more holistic approach to education. The future of the industry is not about creating silos; it is about breaking them down. With the new college structure, a health informatics student could, for example, tap into the experience of a professor or student working in information assurance. This collaboration is both useful and reflects the way people work in the field.

Combining programs also means traditional and nontraditional students will share the same classes. From Plantz-Masters’ perspective, that is also a good thing. “Adult students often bring real-world experience and a professional network, whereas traditional-aged students bring innovative thinking. This makes for a complementary and highly creative learning environment.”

“Experiences like this help students fine-tune their technical skills while also giving them a chance to learn soft skills like leadership and teamwork.”

greater than lecture halls

A computer is only as good as the person running it. Regis makes sure its students are prepared with a relatively simple strategy – experiential learning.

“Students, whether they are online or on campus, want more than just concepts,” said Don Archer, interim academic dean. “They want real-world experience and our faculty brings it to the class.”

Case in point – the work Likarish has done as regional director for the Rocky Mountain Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. For the past three years, he has organized a competition that provides collegiate teams an opportunity to test their cyber security skills through role-play scenarios. The students act as a security operations team for a fictitious company under attack. In defending the system, they learn to recognize, understand and overcome the attacks.

Another compelling example of experiential learning is Regis’ practicum, which serves as a practical thesis or final project for students before graduation. As part of the database practicum, for example, student teams volunteer their services to nonprofit or startup companies. Recently, one team partnered with an organization dedicated to ending human trafficking, creating a survey tool that collects information and facilitates communication between like-minded groups.

“Experiences like this help students fine-tune their technical skills,” said Bob Mason, Ph.D., program coordinator for database technologies, “while also giving them a chance to learn soft skills like leadership and teamwork.”

These experiences also provide students with a taste of how they can use their talents in the service of others.

That is the goal, after all: to educate the next generation of competent and compassionate professionals who will transform the world, one bold keystroke at a time.