In the mid 1990's, a small group of faculty at Southern Miss were faced with the disparity between the formal education available to computing professionals and the actual knowledge, skills and abilities required to successfully design, implement and support computer networks, applications and end-users. Over the ensuing years, James Murphy and Scott Neal brought IT to Southern Miss.
The typical computing environment changed rapidly in the early 1990's - moving from a centralized mainframe model to a decentralized microcomputer model. This new model for delivering computing power to the enduser resulted in the proliferation of enduser support issues and the need for competent desktop systems and local area network administrators. These new technologists need the knowledge, skills and abilities to assess customer requirements, choose appropriate technologies, implement new technologies and integrate them into existing business processes, and communicate with the customers to help them use the new technologies effectively.
Beginning as the Software Emphasis within the Computer Engineering Technology program and then as the Software Engineering Technology program, the Information Technology program at Southern Miss is the first post-secondary information technology program in the state of Mississippi. Beginning with only 15 majors in 1997, the program now supports over 200 majors, graduate 50 new information technologists each year. Our graduates are network and systems administrators, systems analysts, web masters, application developers, and IT consultants.
The Information Technology program at Southern Miss has evolved with the IT industry and student demand. ITC majors can concentrate on networking, software development or telecommunications. Additionally, students can specialize in local area networking, wide area networking, Internet development, applicaitons development, and telecommunications. Work continues on developing additional areas of specialization in network security, wireless networking, database management and visualization.
In the early 1990's at The University of Southern Mississippi, the School of Engineering Technology served as the administrative unit for a diverse group of Engineering Technology programs including:
Architectural Engineering Technology, Computer Engineering Technology, Construction Engineering Technology, Electronics Engineering Technology, Industrial Engineering Technology, Manufacturing Engineering Technology, Mechanical Engineering Technology, and Workforce Training and Development.
Over a brief period of years, the Computer Engineering Technology program evolved to include a Hardware Empahsis and a Software Emphasis. However, after a visit by their accrediting agency, the decision was made to separate the two emphasis areas.
In 1997, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board (IHL) approved the creation of a new degree program, then named Software Engineering Technology.
In 2003, the Mississippi IHL approved a degree name change from Software Engineering Technology to Information Technology. The change reduced the confusion about the purpose of the degree program and better represented the capabilities of its graduates. This change was also accompanied by the elimination of a number of the smaller programs.
In 2004, the building and construction programs within the School of Engineering Technology (Architectural Engineering Technology, Construction Engineering Technology, and Industrial Engineering Technology) were separated to form the new School of Construction, thereby reducing the size of the School of Engineering Technology by half.
In 2005, the School of Engineering Technology - now consisting of only Computer Engineering Technology, Electronics Engineering Technology, and Information Technology - was renamed the School of Computing. Additionally, the separate Department of Computer Science and Statistics was brought under into the school to facilitate interdisciplary research, reduce course duplication, and to overall improve the educational opportunities for students in computer-related majors.
We are currently a contributor to the effort to formalize IT as an academic discipline distinct from and on a par with Computer Science, Software Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Information Systems.
In the spring of 2003, the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) created the Special Interest Group for Information Technology Education (SIGITE). This effort will create a model curriculum for IT education and professional accreditation guidelines.