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Terrell Russell
June 1999

Information Technology and Service Organizations

Due to the mechanization of more and more labor intensive jobs, our society is experiencing a shift in industry from manufacturing to service. It is because of this shift that the number of service and non-profit organizations in America has shown meteoric growth in the past few years.

The integrity and timeliness of information dissemination are two of the most important things to businesses today. Organizations cannot function without quick access to correct facts and numbers. They will also not be able to function without knowledgeable, apt people to manage those facts and numbers.

Small service organizations and non-profit organizations in particular will not have the capital, the know-how, or the facilities to start from scratch. They have special needs which can be met only by trained Information Technology professionals who understand those needs.

The courses in my proposed concentration are divided into four groups:

Technology: Ethical, Social, and Political Dimensions

Information Technology first needs to be seen in the broader context of technology and society. Our society is built on the foundation of progress. We move forward to make tomorrow better than today. But technological progress does not necessarily constitute social progress. With new advances in science and technology we present ourselves with social and ethical challenges. Service organizations must be able to anticipate and deal with these challenges. This is first covered in Dr. Malloy-Hanley's MDS 304H - Ethical Dimensions of Progress. By questioning our views and assumptions about technology and progress, we come to better understand our current situation and learn to better define where we are headed.

ANT 261 - Technology in Society and Culture will document our progression through time and our culture's coming to terms with the fundamental technological changes being caused by perpetual reinvention and innovation. Also included are the societal risks associated with innovation, and the engineer's role during change.

In PS 314 - Science, Technology and Public Policy, these changes are studied in relation to the public policy and power relationships surrounding such new technologies. In addition, I will learn about the political forces affecting marketing and technological decisions.

To better understand these decisions and sample case studies regarding technological progress, I will complete a technology assessment of a specific engineering issue or product in E 497S - Franklin Capstone.

Information Technology

In BUS 340 - Information Systems Management, I will learn the successful integration of the hardware and software from my Computer Engineering degree with people and deadlines in a working environment. Also, CSC 454 - Human-Computer Interaction will allow me to personally evaluate the processes used for developing interface design. Without a powerful, usable, stable interface, all the potential productivity of an organization can be lost. This is as much a course on how people learn effectively as it is in the design of a graphical user interface for a computer system.

Leadership and Service

BUS 295S is the Park Scholarships Leadership Seminar. After determining our learning types, we analyzed the compatibility issues arising from having different ones coexist within a group amid outside pressures for success. In groups of five we developed service projects, out of which evolved Service Raleigh. It is through this experience that I gained an appreciation for the importance of service organizations and their unique Information Technology needs.

Service Raleigh is a day of service designed to allow both NC State students and residents of the community at large to give back to their community through various acts of community service in the greater Raleigh area. We mobilized over 700 volunteers to over 30 "partner" sites. This resulted in over 3500 man-hours of work. I experienced first hand the organization of this large scale project and the accountability involved in managing other people's time and money. Having worked with this project and seeing the void that exists with the communication and information aspects of the service organizations we helped, I know that I want to ease their struggle. With a more efficient system, brought on by better Information Technology and a little technical know-how, these groups could be 2-3 times as productive in providing their goods or services to their communities.


PSY 307 - Industrial and Organizational Psychology surveys the application of theories to solve interpersonal problems between co-workers. Morale and job satisfaction are also focus areas for this course. COM 456 - Organizational Communication will look into these same problem areas more closely from the standpoint of sharing information effectively and actively keeping communication channels open.

This concentration of courses is designed to fuse some of the most valuable skills sought in the Information Technology field today with particular relevance to the needs of service organizations. Background and experience in learning types, communication, and teamwork coupled with my technical knowledge will prepare me to make a definitive and positive contribution to my society.

ANT 261  - Technology in Society and Culture
BUS 295S - Park Scholarships Leadership Seminar
BUS 340  - Information Systems Management
COM 456  - Organizational Communication
CSC 454  - Human-Computer Interaction
E   497S - Franklin Capstone
MDS 304H - Ethical Dimensions of Progress
PS  314  - Science, Technology and Public Policy
PSY 307  - Industrial and Organizational Psychology