The University Record, October 9, 2000

Dearborn’s College of Engineering and Computer Science launches new master’s degree program

By Jennifer Sroka

A new master’s degree in information systems and technology began this fall in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the U-M-Dearborn. The program, which is geared toward working professionals who want to complement, extend and integrate technical and organizational knowledge in information systems, was approved by the Regents at their May meeting.

“I see this program as exploiting a very important niche in our community,” said Roberto Kampfner, associate professor of computer and information science at Dearborn. “Graduates of the program will be proficient in specific areas of specialization, but they will also have knowledge of basic concepts and methodology. This is indeed a wonderful combination.”

Technical knowledge in information systems includes skills in database systems, computer networks, information systems analysis and design, and object-oriented systems design. Organizational knowledge in information systems revolves around aspects of organization that influence the way information systems should be designed, according to Kampfner.

“This includes knowledge about particular types of organizations or types of information support,” he said. “More specifically, it includes knowledge about key organizational processes, such as supply-chain management and decision support. More general knowledge about information systems and organizations, such as principles of organizational information systems and modeling of integrated information systems also falls into this category.”

“It’s becoming very common for companies to take software from store shelves and have their information systems departments try to implement it,” according to S.K. Kachhal, chair of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering at Dearborn. “Until now, most people working in those departments were trained in computer science and had programming backgrounds, but usually they knew little about a particular software’s basic function. We’re hoping this new degree program will give graduates the technical tools they need, as well as some knowledge about various functions.”

Kampfner and Onur Ulgen, professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering at Dearborn, will jointly administer the new degree program, which has an estimated fall enrollment of 15–20 students and will offer year-round evening classes so working professionals can pursue the degree on a part-time basis.

Core classes in the 30-hour curriculum will cover principles of organizational information systems, database systems, object-oriented system design, computer networks and data communications, and modeling of integrated information systems. Concentration areas will focus on manufacturing and service information systems, with e-commerce and health care systems to be added in the near future. Students may choose to research and write a thesis instead of taking six hours of elective courses to focus on a specific information system topic.

The new master’s degree program will give students hands-on experience in working with SAP R/3, an enterprise-resource-planning (ERP) software for the information processing needs of modern organizations.

“SAP R/3 contains various modules of applications software,” according to Kampfner. “These modules are integrated and can be used on various hardware platforms.”

“A large number of the training programs in industry do not cover the theory and methodology of ERP systems,” according to Ulgen. “They just concentrate on the software tools. Our new information systems and technology program teaches theory, application and tools of ERP systems in a well-balanced fashion so that the students know how the different components interact. This will enable students to model the corporate business environment from an overall systems point of view resulting in efficiencies in modeling different business processes.”