Business Intelligence Systems Infrastructure program upgrades students in 'superior way'
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Jim Myronyk is the co-ordinator of Algonquin College’s BISI or Business Intelligence Systems Infrastructure program ( http
“I’m very excited about where the program is now, and where it is going,” Myronyk says.
IBM has supported the growing program, which is quickly garnering interest and increased acceptance in the workplace. Students require a previous degree in technology, business, or similar discipline to be considered for the program. In its 2 years of existence, enrolment has doubled - and now with over 50 students on a wait list, there is no doubt there is a strong taste for this particular flavour of study says Myronyk.
“The key to our success is keeping a pulse on the marketplace – primarily delivering skill sets that are in demand now and augmenting these skills with those that are consistent with our vision and that are expected to be in demand in the next few years.”
Myronyk has worked in the private sector for 18 years and public sector for 12 years, and with two Master’s degrees – an MBA in Managerial Economics and Finance,and a MSc. in Information System Science - his background in business and technology means he is able to balance both needs in the classroom.
A key component of the BISI program is the hands on use of technology infused with real client projects. Project teams are formed with four to five students, and each team is required to analyze a client problem, propose a business intelligence solution, and deliver it rapidly using generally accepted project management practices. A proof of concept delivery and underlying technical model later, both the client and team have a new BI solution in their hands. Sometimes insulated with visualization tools, the client can implement the solution at their leisure. A valuable by-product of this approach is students gain some insight into the pleasures and perils of collaborating on providing a challenging deliverable to a real client in a short time frame.
Students have previously worked on projects with CHEO, CFIA, and Algonquin College – earning stellar reviews from all clients. Students have done so well they’ve often been hired on later as co-op interns with the institutions.
For example, a recent proof-of-concept project at CHEO considered the BI reporting and data warehousing requirements related to supporting the Ontario Newborn Screening program. This advanced Provincial healthcare program tests for serious illnesses in approximately 150,000 newborn babies anually. Identifying these potential illnesses right away is crucial for a newborn baby’s health.
Like many organizations, CHEO had operational information in several data stores, and wanted to combine them in a meaningful way for reporting purposes. This was a typical physical or logical data warehouse opportunity. Algonquin BISI students delivered a well-received proof-of-concept solution that enabled CHEO to access data in a faster, more efficient way.
Other student projects delivered proof of concept solutions in support of data journalism, student co-curricular activities, and several non-trivial human resource related reporting requirements.
“The big message is that it is an exciting field and students are actively engaged in something that is unique, hands-on, and amazing,” Myronyk says. “A practical technical understanding of business intelligence modelling along with strong reporting skills enables graduates to work effectively addressing different client needs".
"In addition to a great academic and support team helping in all aspects of delivering this program, I really appreciate IBM’s investment in this process through resources, material and software.”