IT, Computer Science,
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Finding Solutions on the Fly

Juniata alumnus Steve de Perrot '84 had a problem - his successful pottery business, which he had built steadily into his dream job, needed to get on the Web - but he didn't really know where to start.

So, he e-mailed his old business professor (Jim Donaldson '67). Donaldson doesn't specialize in Web marketing so he passed the request on to Marlene Burkhardt, associate professor of business, who teaches cybermarketing.

Burkhardt also oversees an information technology course called Innovation for Industry, which is known around campus as I-4-I.  The I-4-I course creates an IT team with students from several POEs (IT, computer science, digital media and business), which is overseen by a faculty sponsor. Each team works on information technology jobs commissioned by local industry.

Pots by dePerrot

Each job can be a semesterlong or yearlong project. Depending on the project, four to seven students typically work on an I-4-I team.  The projects are usually negotiated six months to a year in advance.

Steve de Perrot needed his online store up in six weeks!

As serendipity would have it, the I-4-I course, which has been a major success for Juniata's hands-on approach to information technology education, had just begun experimenting with a more flexible approach.  The course would assign smaller projects needing a fast turnaround to a project manager who then would pull resources - which almost always means student resources - from other projects to accomplish the task.

The new approach to turnkey projects spawned a "response team" overseen by two students, Dwight Bard '08, from Warfordsburg, Pa., and Pat Haskins '08, from West Auburn, Mass., called Juniata College Technology Consultants.

Th e team also included Joe Maher '09, of Altoona Pa; Whitne Bornstein '08, of Livingston, N.J.; Matthew Milliken '08, of Dayville, Conn.; Michael Conte '08, of New Kensington, Pa.; Todd Beaumont '08, of Brookville Pa.; and Dan Kauff man '08, of Conestoga, Pa.

The de Perrot project seemed like a perfect test of the JCTC model. So Burkhardt, Bard and Haskins accepted the challenge.

Most of Juniata's usual best practices were now out the window. There would be no client meeting, no Function Specifi cation Documents, no Gantt Charts, no PERTT charts, etc. Of course, no one but Innovations for Industry students knows what those things are, but believe it, there wasn't time to do them.

Steve's business, Pots by de Perrot, is in Lititz, Pa., and Steve had no time to help out the team because he was busy magically morphing clay into art.

The student team could not sacrifi ce a day to travel to Lititz. The student team worked long-distance with Shirley Parsons de Perrot '83, marketing director for the business (and Steve's wife). A couple of phone calls and long nights later, it was agreed that the team could and would get his business online before a big pre-Christmas show in November. Risky? Could be, but Juniata's faculty has a lot of faith in our students because they tend to exceed expectations on a regular basis.

The most important task was to find a suitable Web "shopping cart," so Steve could be selling on the Web by the time his big show opened.

Sound like an easy task? It is and it isn't. It is very easy to find a commercial shopping cart with lots of bells and whistles, but they are pretty expensive. It is easy to fi nd a Web shopping cart that is free and will run off of one's existing Web site but they have either bells or whistles, but not both. So after three weeks of testing agony - successfully setting up several carts to compare ease of use and features - the team settled on Cube cart.

The JCTC/de Perrot collaboration is continuing and Bard and Bornstien improved the look and feel of his Web site and open up more electronic storefronts for the pottery site on Amazon.com, Yahoo, or E-bay.

The IT department, emboldened by the success of the de Perrot project, now has a team headed by Nora Wainwright '08, of Altoona Pa., managing two alumni projects.  The first is with Ryan Richards '06, who is actively trying to increase the fundraising capacity for the village school he works with in Guatemala.  The other project is revamping the Web site of alumna Amy Love-Leighton '86, who has an online resume service called ALL Resumes. Juniatians Whitney Glosenger '09, of Towanda, Pa., and Kaleigh Driscoll '08, of Fallston, Md., are applying their tech talents to that project.

These willing alums, congenial and collaborative faculty, and a fabulous cast of students have created something here that is...uniquely Juniata.