By Martin J. Kidston
The Computer Information Systems program at Montana State University-Northern has received a $1.6 million grant from Oracle Corporation to extend the popular computer program to the regional campus in Great Falls.
Oracle Corporation, producer of the worlds leading database technology, has given Northerns CIS program the go-ahead to expand into the schools regional campus in Great Falls, associate professor Roger Stone announced on Tuesday.
Our ability to take the Oracle grant to Great Falls will significantly and radically change the level of training available to the city, Stone said. It will not be the same were talking about a major infusion of software dollars.
Heavily relied upon throughout the state, Stone said, the Oracle database supports a system known as Banner a student tracking and data processing program used by all Montana universities. Oracle also supports the People Soft system used by the state government. In fact, Stone said, the Oracle database is so powerful, it can manage terrabites of information, and process close to a million transactions per second.
Oracle represents the main data storage engine for both the state and university systems, Stone said. And it offers tools to access and manipulate that stream of data.
Associate Professor Jay Howland, who works closely with Stone, said the Oracle grant will revolutionize the CIS program in Great Falls. As in Havre, the new program will require that students go into the community to conduct computer projects, spreading the benefit of their knowledge far beyond the classroom.
While in the CIS program, the student will study database design, system analysis and implementation, and various programming languages, Howland said. Its a popular course at Northern, and were excited to offer it to the Great Falls community.
Howland said that computer information systems is one of the fastest growing fields in the country. Expected to stay in demand over the next 10 years, graduates of the program will be on the cutting edge of the technological future.
There are currently more positions open in the information technology field than there are graduates, Howland said. Its one of the reasons why Oracle is so committed to supporting the efforts of higher education.
Howland said MSU-Northern, as part of the grant, was free to select a variety of Oracle products to be used in the CIS program. The products will be incorporated into the Bachelor of Applied Science degree with a CIS option.
The program will be available through weekend course offerings at Northerns regional campus in Great Falls, scheduled to begin this fall.