Designing a career-oriented IT curriculum

The president of Neumont University in South Jordan, Utah, talks about the school’s project-based curriculum for computer science.

How does Neumont’s approach differ from traditional CS programs?

We view the employer who will hire our graduates as our customer. Our campus and curriculum are designed to mirror the environment our students will experience in the workplace.

The program is accelerated. Students are in the classroom from 8:00 to 4:00, Monday through Friday, and graduate in 24 months. It is also 70 percent project-based.

That means students develop core competencies in computer science, along with vital team-leadership and collaboration skills, by building enterprise applications in small teams.

We have re-engineered the traditional computer science curriculum, and our project-based program is mapped to 400 core competencies in computer science.

How do you measure the success of Neumont’s approach?

By our placement rates and the average starting salaries of our graduates, which are over US$60,000 per year, 19 percent over the national average for new graduates in computer science.

Is Neumont changing the face of CS education at other schools?

An academician once said, “It’s easier to change the course of history than to change a course in history.” Much is written about the shortage of high-end software development talent in the U.S. Universities are getting the message, but it will take years to change the core curriculum at most postsecondary institutions.

What are Neumont’s plans for expansion? How many graduates do you expect to have in the workforce by 2010?

Neumont was built to scale up. We expect to [have had] 2,000 graduates by 2010, making Neumont one of the largest graduates of students in computer science in the world. In fact, we just announced the launch of our new campus in Dulles, Va., which will be opening this summer.

World class

The 10 best schools for executive education, as ranked by the Financial Times this spring:

1.Harvard Business School, U.S.

2. Stanford University Graduate School of Business, U.S.

3. University of Virginia, Darden, U.S.

4. University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, U.S.

5. IMD, Switzerland

6. Center for Creative Leadership, U.S.

7. Instituto de Empresa, Spain

8. Northwestern University ‘s Kellogg School of Management, U.S.

9. IESE Business School, Spain

10. Babson Executive Education

U.S. Note: The annual ranking is based on surveys of organizations and people worldwide, who rate the leading schools for quality and impact.

Too many chiefs

If you’ve been working for one company for a while and your title hasn’t changed to chief architect, say, or you aren’t yet chief security officer, chief technology officer, or chief cook and bottle washer, you may be behind the curve — the curve of title inflation, that is.

Wharton Business School’s “Knowledge@Wharton” online publication asked various faculty members in May to comment on a trend in flattened organizations to give some employees a boost by handing out titles like chief privacy officer, chief cultural officer, chief geek, chief apology officer and chief receptionist.

According to Peter Cappelli, director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources, companies that don’t have enough titles that are significant-sounding are generating new ones as a reward. Title inflation can even hit at the hiring stage, he says, because “it’s easy to offer a potential employee a title that he or she asks for if it means he will come on board.”

Wharton marketing professor George Day’s take is that some chief titles are meant to emphasize the importance of an initiative or a function within the organization.

Betsey Stevenson, a professor of business and public policy, says she thinks that the employees who are pushing for C-level titles may be “the same ones who, as students, pushed for A’s and caused grade inflation. Now they are making it into the corporate world, and they want big titles.”

The question that hangs over this discussion: When everyone has an important-sounding title, is anyone important?

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