Innovative Carleton program right on track

If there’s one thing to be learned from the high tech roller coaster, it’s that you have to be flexible.

“In order to exist, we have to be able to change,” says Ben Gianni, Director of Carleton’s School of Information Technology.

In 2003, the School opened, offering a unique program in partnership with Algonquin College, whereby students would study one of two streams in information technology (network technology, or interactive multimedia and design) and graduate in four years with both a college diploma from Algonquin, and a Bachelor of Information Technology from Carleton.

It’s delivered through the collaboration of a highly skilled team from two post-secondary institutions, three faculties, and more than seven academic departments.

“The innovative structure of the program mirrors our interest in technological and design innovation, in order to produce graduates who will help shape the emerging fields of networking and interactive multimedia. We’re forging something new and it’s working remarkably well,” says Gianni.

The first student cohort is now half-way through the program, and overall, the response has been quite positive.

“The program is growing up with us,” says Tanushree Mohan, a second-year student in the network technology stream. “We’re dealing with the latest technology, and that’s really important because if you’re not up-to-date, there’s no point.”

Fellow second-year student, Amy Jacobs, who is following the sister stream in interactive multimedia and design, says another bonus of being part of the first cohort is being able to provide feedback on the program while it unfolds.

Getting input from students, industry and government in the development, and now implementation of the program has been crucial, says Gianni, explaining that the goal was to offer a program that had the kind of flexibility to progress and diversify at the same rate as the industry.

“They are the ones that hire graduates, know what they need, and can identify what’s lacking,” he says.

And for a long time, the industry had been lacking graduates who had not only technical skills, but a broader understanding of the technology industry, superior problem solving skills, and the ability to work in teams.

“You don’t want a program focused too narrowly. You need to focus on many things,” says Gianni, explaining that throughout the program students are exposed to courses not only in technology, but business and mass communications as well, among other disciplines. “And students are taught to work in teams,” he says. “They figure out very early on who is good at what, and that no one is good at everything.”

The combination of technical and other professional skills is what makes the program truly unique in Canada. In fact, the program is so unique, Mohan came all the way from India just to enrol.

Jacobs also liked the program’s unique blend of engineering, computer science, commerce, and in her case, design. “I was looking for something that was future-oriented,” she says.

And as the first cohort of Carleton’s newest degree program crosses the halfway mark – that future looks bright.

“We’re here, we’re growing, we have great students, and we’re doing great things,” says Gianni. “Everyone should expect to hear more from us in the near future.”

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