The Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology, also known as the College of IST, opened in 1999 as the information school of The Pennsylvania State University. Headquartered at the University Park campus in University Park, Pennsylvania, the college's programs are offered at 18 Penn State campus locations. Dr. Andrew Sears currently serves as the college's dean.
The college focuses on the study of issues that exist at the intersection of information, technology, and people, and aims to educate students who can lead in the information age. Work in the college currently focuses on four major trends in education, research, and outreach: the internet of things; mobile computing and sensing; big data; artificial intelligence, and new forms of risk involving cyber insecurity and information privacy.
The College of IST is part of a group of i-Schools dedicated to advancing the information field. It currently offers four Bachelor of Science degrees; master's and doctoral degrees; and several undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates through Penn State World Campus, the University's online campus.
The School of Information Sciences and Technology was founded in 1997 and approved by the Penn State Board of Trustees in 1998 based on a need perceived by the University and advisors from government and industry for educating students in the emerging fields of information science and technology.
The goal was to extend beyond classic computer science, management information systems, and library science to prepare students to meet challenges in the use of computers and networked systems for applications such as intelligent systems, medicine, business, homeland security, environmental monitoring, and control of complex systems.
The School was charged with producing graduates who would have basic knowledge of information technologies such as artificial intelligence, computer programming, discrete mathematics, database concepts, human-computer interaction, simulation, and understanding of information system concepts, as well as the capability to work in teams to understand how information technologies can be utilized in real applications involving individuals, organizations, and ultimately national or global enterprises.
When it opened in September 1999, the School admitted 105 students, operated 43 courses, and hosted five faculty members. In June 2000, the School offered its first online course.
The first class of associate degree students graduated in June 2001, with the first class of doctoral students enrolling in August 2001. The School awarded its first bachelor's degrees to 117 students at the University Park campus in May 2003. The School hosted the first conference of the i-School community in September 2005.
The School was renamed as the College of Information Sciences and Technology in 2006 – a designation that signified IST's importance within both the Penn State system and the Commonwealth. The School and then College has coordinated the degree programs in IST across the other Penn State Campuses, allowing students to move between campuses and providing intellectual connections between instructors across the campuses.
- Dr. James Thomas (1999-2006) was the founding Dean.
- Dr. Hank Foley (2007-2009).
- Dr. David Hall (2009-2014).
- Dr. Mary Beth Rosson (2014-2016).
- Dr. Andrew Sears (2016-present).
The Westgate Building, formerly known as the Information Sciences and Technology Building is located on the west campus of The Pennsylvania State University's University Park campus. The building was formally opened in 2004 as the IST Building and became the home to the College of Information Sciences and Technology and the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
The 199,000-square-foot (18,500 m2) building was designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects in New York, New York and Perfido Weiskopf Architects in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The architecture was inspired by the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy. The construction of the building is 199,000-square-foot (18,500 m2) and cost $58.8 million to complete. The building serves as a pedestrian bridge which permits pedestrian and bicycle traffic over Atherton Street.
The building houses several classrooms and research laboratories, and collaborative spaces. The largest classroom in the building is the Cybertorium. The Cybertorium seats up to 150 people with stadium seating which faces a large projection screen and a sound system for use by presenters.
The IST Building was renamed Westgate Building in 2017.
The College of IST offers Bachelor of Science programs in five majors. Those include:
Many Penn State commonwealth campuses offer associate degrees in these programs.
The College of Information Sciences and Technology offers graduate degrees at both the master's and doctoral levels.
Both programs attract graduate students from a variety of backgrounds, including computer science, engineering, psychology, sociology, economics, philosophy, visual arts, and mathematics.
The College of Information Sciences and Technology offers several online degree options through Penn State World Campus, which allows for students to pursue a degree while maintaining full-time employment, maintaining personal or family responsibilities, and living remotely. The online degrees offered by the College of IST include:
U.S. News & World Report's 2018 Best Online Programs report ranked Penn State World Campus eighth for best online graduate computer information technology programs.
The College of Information Sciences and Technology is an interdisciplinary college that integrates a variety of perspectives from computer and information sciences, psychology, social science, economics and public policy, to study the interactions between information, technology, and people, to inform the design of innovative information technologies, and their societal impact. Faculty research focuses on artificial intelligence, informatics (including social informatics, health informatics, security informatics, and community informatics), big data, human-computer interaction, security and privacy, cognitive science, and socio-technical systems. The resulting interdisciplinary research drives major advances in areas such as medicine, energy, environmental monitoring and crisis management.
The college is also the home of the well known academic search engine, CiteSeerX.
The college has more than 50 tenured, tenure-track, and fixed-term faculty. Some faculty of note include:
There are more than a dozen student organizations in College of Information Sciences and Technology, including:
The College of Information Sciences and Technology offers a variety of services designed to support undergraduate student learning, personal growth, and professional development, including:
The College of Information Sciences and Technology founded "IST Startup Week" in 2012. The event was created to celebrate a $400,000 gift from David Rusenko, a 2007 graduate of the college who along with Chris Fanini and Dan Veltri co-founded the drag-and-drop website building company, Weebly, while they were students at Penn State. The gift — the largest from a graduate in the college's history — created the "David Rusenko Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarship" and the "David Rusenko Entrepreneur-in-Residence Scholarship," both of which continue to help IST students launch their own companies while they are still in school.
The event grew to include other colleges and units across campus, and it was renamed to Penn State Startup Week in 2017. Penn State Startup Week is a weeklong series of events that brings entrepreneurs and innovative thought-leaders to campus for presentations, workshops, mentorship, and student pitch competitions. Past events have drawn speakers from around the country, including the founders of and leaders at high-profile companies like Weebly, Dropbox, Reddit, Lands' End, IBM Watson, and Microsoft.
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