IST's enterprise architecture program gives students advantages

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Enterprise architecture (EA) is one of the fastest growing career fields today, with organizations of all types seeking qualified individuals at all levels to fill architecture-related jobs. However, being a relatively new field, it can be hard for employers to find recent college graduates who possess an understanding of EA fundamentals.

Ryan Kroekel, a sophomore at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) recently landed an internship with a high profile company with the help of skills and knowledge he gained through a class taught by Brian Cameron, executive director of the college’s Center for Enterprise Architecture.

Kroekel will be interning this summer for John Cooney, CTO of Fidelity Information Services, at the company’s branch in Malvern, Pa. During his interview with Cooney, Kroekel said, the executive was astounded by his grasp of the fundamentals of enterprise architecture. Kroekel learned those concepts and practices by taking the first undergraduate EA course offered by the College of IST in the Fall 2012 semester. “(Cooney) was completely floored that I knew anything about (EA),” Kroekel said.

The Center for EA, which launched in January 2011, seeks to gather intellectual resources across Penn State to address research concerns and questions that span the design, functioning and governance of contemporary, information-driven enterprises. EA applies architecture principles related to the “orderly arrangement of parts” to analyze the components, structure and connectivity of business architecture, data architecture, application architecture, technology architecture and security architecture, and identify their relationships to each other and to the strategy of the organization.

Starting in the fall 2013 semester, the College of IST will offer an EA course concentration that consists of 12 credits and is open to all IST and Security and Risk Analysis (SRA) majors. The student will earn a certificate in EA and will develop the skills that are in demand among prospective employers in all sectors. There will be two EA undergraduate courses offered in the fall of 2013, Cameron said.

"Ryan’s experience is common for undergraduates that have taken EA courses," Cameron said. "No other university in the country is teaching EA at the undergraduate level and interviewers are very surprised to find students that know something about the topic – it provides a definite edge in interviews. I have several other students with similar stories."

In addition to the lessons taught in the classroom, Cameron and Kroekel said, the students in the undergraduate EA class benefitted from working on real corporate projects. That experience, Kroekel said, combined with the theoretical knowledge, gave him a definitive edge while interviewing with Cooney.

“(EA) is such a blossoming field,” Kroekel said. “I knew things that (Cooney) had just learned within the last two years.”

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Last Updated April 15, 2013