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Informatics bachelor’s degree approved for WSU Spokane

SPOKANE — Washington State University has received approval from the state Higher Education Coordinating Board for a bachelor of science degree in informatics, with all upper-division course work offered at the Spokane campus.

WSU Spokane will begin accepting students into the new program spring semester 2006, and is currently advising students completing prerequisite course work at the Pullman campus and at area community colleges.

The informatics degree combines principles of business, computer science and decision science. The interdisciplinary program focuses on information science and its role in effective business decision-making, with practical experience and coursework in economics, marketing, finance, statistics,  database management systems and data warehousing, optimization, decision science and software development.

WSU Spokane Vice Chancellor Jo Ann Thompson said, “The BS informatics fits into our overall plan for academic development at WSU Spokane and at the Riverpoint campus. By developing new degrees in selected emerging fields that meet the needs of Washington employers and provide students with lifelong career options, we help grow the state’s economy and provide new opportunities for students.”

 Graduates will have the knowledge necessary for careers that require skills in information systems design and development, systems management, information research services and corporate strategy. Job titles for informatics graduates include, for example, information technology manager, computer systems analyst, information architect, information technologist, software engineer, Internet developer and database administrator.

These skills are in high demand in every kind of business and industry. The average company spends 4 to 5 percent of revenue on IT, which is now one of the largest expenses outside of employee costs, according to the IEEE Spectrum (October 2005), a leading journal in the field.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects computer systems analysts, database administrators and computer scientists to be among the fastest-growing occupations through 2012, according to the 2004-05 Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Faculty members say the informatics curriculum is  designed to meet the identified needs of business. For example, Traci Gere, group vice president of U.S. Services Research at analyst firm IDC, said in a 2004 interview for CSC Features, “…when you think about the new skills that would benefit IT professionals here in the United States, the focus should be on learning business processes and how IT helps achieve the strategic objectives of the organization.”

Faculty who teach in the informatics program conduct research in a number of disciplines that utilize data analysis to inform decisions, including medical and healthcare informatics, biomedical engineering, information technology and computer modeling.

Paul Schimpf, associate professor, electrical engineering and computer science, focuses his research on applications of electromagnetics to biomedical systems, including such problems as determining neural activity in the brain from an electroencephalogram (EEG). Contact: schimpf@wsu.edu, (509) 358-7937.

Margaret Mortz, associate professor, electrical engineering and computer science, focuses her research on classroom captioning using computer speech recognition, text mining, speech enhancement, assistive technology, bridging the digital divide and digital hearing aids. Contact: mmortzwsu.edu, (509) 358-7935.

Kenn Daratha, assistant professor, technology management, conducts research in statistical analysis and data mining techniques, with applications for chronic diseases such as substance abuse, type 2 diabetes, persistent asthma and obesity. Contact: kdaratha@wsu.edu, (509) 358-7769.

Students interested in pursuing the degree are encouraged to contact program faculty for advising. Students may begin their studies at WSU Pullman, with the final two years at WSU Spokane, or may complete their freshman and sophomore years at another accredited university or community college and transfer to WSU Spokane. For more information, contact Jane Kinkel, kinkel@wsu.edu, (509)358-7527.

WSU Spokane is the urban research campus of Washington State University, a doctoral/research extensive university ranked among the top public research universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. WSU Spokane’s campus at Riverpoint lies immediately adjacent to downtown on the scenic Spokane River, at the heart of the developing University District.


Related Web Links:

BS Informatics: www.informatics.spokane.wsu.edu

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