My Thoughts from Today’s Guest: Dean Thomas

Dean Thomas discussed the IST program, its roots, and its mission today in class. His main point is that IST prepares leaders for the global digital economy …

Dean Thomas started by talking about that there is a 2 trillion dollars a year investment in technology in the US … top managers in the USA are not seeing the return on investment based on the fact that there are few people who know “how to use the technology to make a difference,” not “how do you do 200 lines of debugged code.” He went on to say that we as educators haven’t trained people to be solution providers – we tend to focus on the technology itself. At IST we look at the interfaces, the social, ethical, policy issues, as well as the drill downs into the basics of technology … we educate students who can engage, defend, and articulate solutions with clients. Employers love that stuff! And oh, by the way so do students … both in their internships and their real jobs!

In relation to outsourcing, Dean Thomas says he hears a lot parents say “outsourcing means there won’t be any jobs out there for my kid …” the dean laughs – he even calls it silly. The stuff that gets outsourced is “production stuff,” not problem solving. He goes on to say, that IST students can go into companies and provide a series of competencies that will not be outsourced — they become strategic advantages.

Let’s boil it down to two main issues that get to the heart of the IST:

1. Can you use technology for competitive distinctions when everyone has the access to the same technology? Yes … it becomes the people who use the technology to create winning solution.

2. How do you get people to use the technology so it can make a difference? You make them understand that there is more to a solution than the technology — that solutions are a product of a systems-level perspective.

He also discussed some numbers related to the School — 98% placement at about $53,000.00 starting salaries — both the highest rates at Penn State. If you were engaged in consulting (a third of our graduates last year) those salaries went up into the $70,000 and $80,000 range. Check out some of these stats online. As a School, we do huge research initiatives – we’ve done over 24 million in research in the list two years. Check it out.

He discussed several IST faculty member’s research agendas … really just to give you all a flavor of what is going on here – and how applied it is to the real world. Sort of like your videos! Take a look around the IST website and see what its all about. If any of you have questions for Dean Thomas, you can post them as comments here and I’ll make sure he gets them. Thanks for listening and asking such insightful questions.

2 thoughts on “My Thoughts from Today’s Guest: Dean Thomas

  1. Not what I expected from “The Dean.” very cool and seemed like a fun person to talk to and get to know. After his speech, I feel that I am in the right school here at PSU. I am looking forward to the IST classes to come and being able to graduate with companies hopefully competing for me, rather than me competing for the job!

    I am planning on scheduling a meeting with the Dean and talking to him more about the IST school and how we can both benefit from it!

    I would have posted sooner but the link wasn’t working for some reason.

  2. I thought the Dean was actually pretty cool and he did touch on some areas that I wanted to know a little more about. He seems like a nice person to talk to. I definitely learned a lot from his talk. Hopefully he can come in again and maybe answer some questions we might have.

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