Alumnus, instructor on front lines of largest-ever HR resource planning system

Jessica Hallman
May 08, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The U.S. Department of the Army is undergoing a major overhaul to its human resources data system, and a Penn State alumnus is on the front lines.

Francis Killeen

Pennsylvania Army National Guard First Lieutenant Francis Killeen

IMAGE: Provided

First Lieutenant Francis Killeen, who earned a master of professional studies in information sciences - cybersecurity and information assurance through Penn State World Campus in 2016, currently serves with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. The Pennsylvania Army National Guard was selected to pilot the new Human Resources (HR) system that will utilize the Integrated Personnel and Pay System - Army (IPPS-A). The system is a single platform for simultaneous use by units within the Department of the Army, including active duty, reserve and National Guard members, that will provide integrated personnel, pay and talent management capabilities.

“It’s the first time it’s ever been done,” said First Lieutenant Killeen. “It’s going to be a huge game-changer [for the Army].”

First Lieutenant Killeen, a state human resources operations officer, serves as a HR system administrator for IPPS-A. He works with system accesses, business analytic tools, data quality and training.

IPPS-A will integrate more than 30 existing systems and eliminate more than 300 interfaces, ensuring secure and consistent processes and data. According to U.S. Army communications officers, the system will be used by approximately 1.1 million soldiers worldwide and will serve as the largest-ever global human resources enterprise resource planning system. Phases of the project will be rolled out across the Department of the Army over the next three to five years.

“To tie it into what we’ve been doing at Penn State, it’s 21st-century technology,” he said. “The analytics are amazing. It’s the first time that we as a National Guard have been able to pull live data quickly and accurately, and present it in a really great way.”

Penn State education sets the stage for First Lieutenant Killeen’s involvement

“It is truly an honoring and humbling experience to be a part of this project, chosen to be the first State Army National Guard organization to field this system exemplifies the excellent and high quality Soldiers that we have throughout Pennsylvania, it was definitely a team effort.”

Killeen said that his experience at Penn State has played a huge role in him being hired to help implement and manage IPPS-A for the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

“The program has prepared me in many ways for my current position, dealing with data analytics, information assurance, more importantly, the ability to manage priorities and time so I can show results day in day out. I will be forever grateful for Penn State.”

-- First Lieutenant Francis Killeen, 2016 Penn State graduate

“Penn State provides the necessary skills to be competitive in the job market, hands down,” said First Lieutenant Killeen. “The program has prepared me in many ways for my current position, dealing with data analytics, information assurance, more importantly, the ability to manage priorities and time so I can show results day in day out. I will be forever grateful for Penn State.”

His path to Penn State came more than a decade after he enlisted in the military. At that time, he had gone through Officer Candidate School to become a Signal officer, overseeing Communications, Information Technology and Radio Operations. It was then that he decided to add Cybersecurity to his list of skills by pursuing a master’s degree through Penn State World Campus.

“Penn State has a really amazing reputation with military members,” he said. “The high-quality education and the fact that I could do it while also working in the military really sold me on it.”

After earning his degree, First Lieutenant Killeen knew that he wanted to maintain his connection to the University and pay forward the great experience that he had. He became a teaching assistant for an online class with the College of IST and soon began instructing his own section of the course.

“I teach in the military from time to time,” he said. “I do love instructing people and I love the material. What really won me over was that I wanted to give back to Penn State.”

“My education was one of the main reasons I got my industry job with General Dynamics and ultimately this full-time job with the Army,” he added. “I felt like I could contribute back to Penn State in some way, shape or form.”

First Lieutenant Killeen draws from his military background and his own experience as a World Campus student when instructing students in his virtual classroom. He said that he has made an effort to blend together the greatest strengths of his former commanders, employers and teachers to make the biggest impact.

“All throughout life, I’ve learned that in order to lead you need to know how to be a follower,” he concluded. “When it comes to having a professor or a boss, I’ve always learned from them. I would take their strengths and observe their weaknesses, and then implement the strengths in my courses and in my everyday life.”

Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information about the master’s degree.

Last Updated July 12, 2021