Frostburg State University, Allegany College of Maryland and Allegany County Board of Education are collaborating to increase the area's number of skilled information technology workers and give those already in the work force a chance to enhance their skills and credentials.
The program starts in local high schools, where students have the opportunity to study basic computer science courses. Upon successful completion according to articulation requirements of the Board of Education and ACM , high school students can earn ACM credits. Local high school teachers have been in training for the past three years to enhance their computer skills to better prepare students for the advanced coursework.
"Students can explore a computer programming career pathway while in high school and earn college credit at the same time," said Darlene Bacon, Career Connections and Tech Prep coordinator for Allegany County. "For those students who want to go above and beyond the high school requirements, there is an opportunity to achieve college credit. The advantages are numerous, including the opportunity to save time and money as students pursue post-secondary training."
The program continues at ACM, where students, first as Early College high school seniors, then as college freshmen and sophomores, pursue an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Computer Science and Technology in one or more of three options: network, personal computer and programming.
The courses from that curriculum are designed to transfer seamlessly to FSU for its new major in information technology management, earning a Bachelor of Technical and Professional Studies degree. The interdisciplinary major is a joint effort of FSU's departments of Computer Science and Business Administration.
The 2+2+2 program is also designed to accommodate those who had earned computer science degrees from ACM in the past, joined the work force, and now want to further their education, said Mohsen Chitsaz, an FSU computer science professor and coordinator of the Information Technology Management program at FSU.
"We want to give a chance for people who earned an associate's degree -- who previously couldn't go back to college -- a chance to complete a four-year degree without taking courses over again," Chitsaz said.
"This effort is opening up options to students," said Kristi Smith, ACM assistant professor and computer science department chair. "This collaboration expands opportunities for graduates of our career program by allowing them to complete a bachelor's degree. I think we're going to get a lot of interest from alumni now in the workplace."
The full program is designed to prepare students to be managers of information technology resources with a combination of advanced courses in computer science and business administration. Students then may decide to specialize more toward business or toward computer science.
"The goal in Information Technology is never to stop learning," Smith said. "This agreement with FSU gives them another opportunity to go on to FSU to study information technology management. It all works together."
"We're happy to have this opportunity to contribute to economic development in the region in collaboration with our educational partners," said FSU Provost Stephen J. Simpson. The rationale is to "home-grow" the area's information technology professionals, Bacon added.
This collaborative degree is the second such effort between ACM and FSU. The Health Science Administration program, established two years ago, joins ACM's strength in health sciences with FSU's business and management expertise to prepare graduates for management positions in health care administration.
The new collaborative program provides a pathway of higher education for Allegany County high school students. The Engineering and Information Technology/Manufacturing and Construction cluster devised by Career Connections of Allegany County is one of six career clusters that the county Board of Education wants its students to select to help guide them toward careers that suit their interests and abilities.
For more information on the program, visit the Web site at http://www.cs.frostburg.edu/2+2+2 or call Mohsen Chitsaz at FSU at (301) 687-4787 or Kristi Smith at ACM at (301) 784-5334. Contact Darlene Bacon at (301) 729-1105, at the Center for Career and Technical Education of Allegany County. As student internships are essential to the high school completer program, Bacon is also interested in hearing from employers willing to help students learn at their workplaces.