When it came to finding a proper test bed for products from Cisco Systems—a multinational communications technology firm—Karen Mangia had to look no further than Ball State’s information and communication sciences program, a program that holds special meaning to her as a graduate.

In her role as Cisco’s director for the Partner Experience, Mangia, ’97 MS ’98, has been working for the last few years with Ball State students and faculty from the Center for Information and Communication Sciences (CICS) as they test various wireless broadband products.

Ball State has developed one of the nation’s most advanced programs for testing wireless broadband prototypes. In addition to Cisco, such wireless broadband industry leaders as Telamon Corp., Alvarion, and Digital Bridge Communications regularly send new technologies to the university for field-testing.

“When I visit with students working on this project, I am impressed with their technical aptitude,” says Mangia, whose office is in Carmel, Indiana. “Beyond that, I enjoy hearing how much they are learning about our company and the industry through this project. They demonstrate such passion.”

Mangia admits she also was passionate about her college career while at Ball State. She earned her bachelor’s degree in international business and telecommunications  and was honored with the David Letterman Scholarship—given to an undergraduate with the most creative project.

But it was during her time as a graduate student when her career path became clear. Mangia was promoted to senior manager in 2008 after working as Cisco’s Indiana commercial regional manager for the past three years.

“CICS changed my life and put me on a trajectory toward a career I could not have imagined during my undergraduate studies,” she says. “The program provides students with an opportunity to learn technology through theory and application. CICS gave me an area of focus and enabled me to build what is still a very important network of people.”

Jay Gillette, an information and communication sciences professor, believes that Mangia may be one of the most engaged graduates of the program.

“We are fortunate to have a graduate of CICS who has her commitment and abilities to work with us and the industry,” he says. “We are proud of her, and her colleagues who are changing our industry and our world for the better, through information and communication.”