Computer Consultants

Hard work and determination are how David Young, BS '10, information systems, found himself on a plane bound for Sweden, ready to present a case study on his class's immersive learning project to a panel of international peers.

The study summarized Young's work with fellow students Matt Hostetler, Cody Hall, and Tara Dannenbring, in which the quartet served as consultants for the city of Greenfield, Indiana, during the 2009-10 academic year. As a team, they spent a semester meeting with city officials and researching how Greenfield could best provide wireless Internet access to its police and emergency personnel.

"Greenfield recognized a need to improve its data transfer system to increase citizen safety," Young says. "Before this project, city employees would have to go to designated 'hot spots' to gain Internet access that would let them get work done, which prevented them from being able to efficiently do their jobs."

In their second semester of work on the project, the team concluded Greenfield needed to hire an outside vendor and delivered an assessment of top providers in the field along with a request for proposal (RFP) that could be used to solicit competitive bids from each.

"The level of detail presented in this immersive learning project allows the city of Greenfield to easily manage the process of soliciting and evaluating alternative vendors," says Fred Kitchens, an information systems professor who oversaw the two-semester, senior-level capstone project.

Nick Riedman, information technology director for the city of Greenfield, said the Ball State students provided city officials with hours of research that, otherwise, they had neither the money nor staff to complete on their own. “The students suggested we pursue a third party vendor for the work and while, for the time being, we’re pursuing a different solution, it was one we were able to reach quickly because of the work the students did for us.”

At Kitchens' suggestion, Young wrote the case study evaluating the work he and his classmates conducted for Greenfield. "I knew my team, and we put together an excellent final product, so there was no hesitation to write the case study," Young says. "I considered it a great opportunity and, while it took some time and effort, the experience was worthwhile and rewarding."

The ultimate reward for Young was discovering the case study had been accepted into the fifth annual International Business Informatics Challenge (IBIC). The competition was held in September 2010 at Linnaeus University in Vaxjo, Sweden. Young found himself taking home first place in the competition.

His award follows Ball State's long history of success at the competition. The university received first place honors in 2008 and was awarded best presentation and best cooperative project in 2007 and 2006, respectively. Recognized projects included ensuring the computer network at the Indianapolis International Airport withstands a disaster, developing a plan to preserve local government data in case of a catastrophe, and analyzing viewership of digital displays.

Hosted in a different international location each year, IBIC next will take place at Ball State. Kitchens said the selection of Muncie, Indiana, for IBIC 2011 was based in large part on the university's track record of success in the annual competition. "This is not something that just happens. This is a direct reflection of the educational opportunities at Ball State and the hard work of the students."

Related Links:

Information Systems and Operations Management 

Miller College of Business