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From the Dean's Office

Karen Papke-Shields
Karen Papke-Shields,
chair of the Information and Decision Sciences Department

Goings-On in the Information and Decision Sciences Department

We all know that things are constantly evolving in the technology field, and that also seems to hold true for the Information and Decision Sciences (I&DS) Department. Although our department is more than just the information technology side, that certainly is an important component. So here is a quick update on some of what has been going on in the department and a little about what is coming up in the near future.

An important part of what we have been doing for the last several years is increasing the use of SAP software in our classes as well as classes in other departments. Just in case you are not familiar with SAP, it is the leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) software provider with over 24 percent of the market world-wide. As members of the SAP University Alliance, our faculty have access to curriculum materials and training to use the various software packages that SAP offers. All students in the Perdue School are introduced to SAP ERP in INFO 211, where they participate in the Distribution Game simulation to learn about different processes and how an integrated system can facilitate those processes.


For information systems majors and enterprise information systems minors, their use of SAP ERP doesn't have to stop there. Students have the opportunity to take two courses focusing on use of an ERP system to support all the major business processes and setting up an ERP system to do so. After successfully navigating these courses, students have the opportunity to participate in an intensive two-week SAP training course called the TERP10. Karen Papke-Shields and Kathie Wright have offered the TERP10 twice at SU with both offerings being very successful – six out of seven in the first group (January 2014) passed and eight out of eight in the second group (January 2015) – so a number of new SAP Certified Associates in Integrated Business Processes with SAP ERP. We will have another group this summer, which will include one of the faculty members in the department along with students. And this opportunity is now available for M.B.A. students as well. The Perdue School was one of just a few schools with students invited to attend the Innovation Day at SAP's headquarters in the fall. And to help spread the word about this program, four of the students that completed the TERP10 this past January will be presenting information about it at the Baltimore Chapter ASUG (Americas' SAP Users' Group) meeting in April.

Other information systems majors pursue a different track where they utilize widely accepted tools to facilitate business decision making. These students are focusing on business intelligence and analytics. They build a solid foundation in understanding business intelligence and then have the chance to put those concepts into action through decision support systems using Visual Basics for Applications via Excel as well as analytical, predictive and data visualization tools from SAP. Although we do not currently have a certification opportunity in this area, we have approached SAP University Alliance about the possibility of being able to do so in the future. And this is another area where our department contributes to the curriculum for Perdue M.B.A. students through a CRM Analytics course.

Networking, connecting people and
letting the data flow

But SAP is not the only area that has been growing and evolving in our department. Dr. Jing Quan has been working closely with Justin Kelley, an alumnus of our program, to provide more hands-on opportunities for students to build, manage and troubleshoot various types of networks (LAN, Wi-Fi, etc.). Not only did Justin contribute equipment that is being used by our students to gain valuable experience, he has participated in numerous classes this semester. He is enjoying the opportunity to give back to the Perdue School and the I&DS Department, and our students are benefitting as well.

And Dr. Eugene Hahn is offering a new class, Digitally Enabled Product Development, where students use a 3D printer and the Arduino platform to innovate their own products. As far as we know, very few classes like this exist in business schools today. But this is a nice fit with the entrepreneurship opportunities in the Perdue School (including a new Entrepreneurship Living and Learning Community for business students starting in fall 2015). The students will be presenting the innovative products they designed, "built" through 3D printing and programmed at the Salisbury University Student Research Conference; participating in the entrepreneurship competition in the Perdue School; and presenting at the Wicomico Library Entrepreneurship Center. And this is a great example of the "Internet of Things," where ordinary objects are using the Internet to communicate. Gene enabled our 3D printer to Tweet messages when print jobs begin and end (see so students can monitor the printer to know if their job is complete or if the printer is available for use.

3D Printing
3D Printing

We continue to strengthen our relationship with Tallinn University of Technology. Two information systems majors studied at TUT in fall 2014, getting the opportunity to study cyber security in a country that is world-renowned for its work in the area (also home to the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence). They took classes such as Information Systems Mass Attacks and Defense, Legal Aspects of Cyber Security, and Estonian Language and Culture. We look forward to more students in the future taking advantage of this opportunity. While we had students at TUT, Dr. Jaan Ubi from TUT joined our department as a Fulbright Scholar in Residence. He introduced us to MEKTORY, a research, practice and entrepreneurship program at TUT, through a research project he is pursuing while here at SU with colleagues from TUT focusing on network science for identifying marketing and risk analysis opportunities.

And of course the members of the department continue to contribute through scholarly activities. Faculty in the department have published peer-reviewed journal articles and presented at regional, national and international conferences. Gene Hahn's new book, Bayesian Methods for Management and Business: Pragmatic Solutions for Real Problems, came out last fall. The book describes the usage of Bayesian statistical methods in many business disciplines, such as accounting, information systems, management, strategy and international business.

Last but not least, we will be offering a post-baccalaureate certificate in advanced technologies where students will gain hands-on experience with various SAP tools while learning important concepts. The program is a fully online one-year certificate program. The original impetus for this program is the SAP Veterans to Work initiative, which was brought to our attention by Bill Burke and Kathie Wright after attending an ASUG meeting. SAP started their program after recognizing the needs of its customers for employees knowledgeable about advanced technologies and the opportunity to assist veterans through gaining knowledge in these areas. Although our program, if approved for veterans' benefits, will not be limited to veterans, we hope it will be an opportunity to assist those that have served the U.S. in the armed forces. Regardless of a student's background, we believe this program will be beneficial to organizations that need employees with this knowledge and individuals seeking such opportunities. So we are very excited about this win-win situation for employers and potential employees.

Although there is much more going on in the I&DS Department and with our students, this at least gives you an idea of some of what has been going on and some of our future plans.

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