The International Telecommunications Education and Research Association named the Fort Hays State University Information Networking and Telecommunications Department its 2008 "Undergraduate Program of the Year." The award was presented at the organization's annual conference March 29 in Louisville, Ky.
"This is an extremely meaningful and important award," said Mark Bannister, chair of the INT Department. "While FHSU has the only university telecommunications program in Kansas, there are more than 40 universities across the nation that offer undergraduate telecommunications degrees. There are a number of very well known universities among the 22 ITERA members. These include Purdue, Pittsburgh University, the University of Colorado, Syracuse, Texas A&M, and Louisville."
Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, said the award was well deserved. "When we initiated the INT program in the mid-1990s, our intent was to create a world-class academic program that would serve Kansas businesses and simultaneously create excellent career opportunities for students interested in information technology," he said.
"This award recognizes the success of our INT graduates and the high quality faculty, curriculum and laboratory experiences the department provides for its students," the president said. "Ambitious and talented students have a tremendous number of doors opened for them through the INT Department and other outstanding departments at the university. This international award confirms our contention that FHSU can provide educational opportunities unparalleled anywhere in the world."
INT faculty members Kevin Shaffer and Jon Tholstrup spent two weeks of the fall semester in Chicago revamping four of the department's courses. "We listen intently to industry and are constantly upgrading our curricula and course content to reflect technology changes," Shaffer said. "As a result, students who are willing to study and to work hard are snapped up by employers at extremely well paying salaries."
Tholstrup added: "A fun thing about teaching in this field is that it is always changing, and faculty as well as students have opportunities to constantly learn. One of our primary goals is to teach students to be life-long learners, astute researchers and information technology leaders. Our record shows that we are succeeding with this goal."
Bannister noted that the ITERA award followed on the heels of the successful curriculum certification of INT's Information Assurance Program by the National Security Administration in February.
"This award is another confirmation from an outside organization of the quality of FHSU's INT offerings," Bannister said. "The most important confirmation is that employers from across Kansas and the nation are interested in our graduates. We have alumni at Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, AT&T, Verizon, Cargill, Koch, Coleman, Sprint, Garmin, Cerner, Nex-Tech, Eagle Communications, and a wide variety of businesses, hospitals, schools and governmental agencies. We often have more organizations seeking graduates than we have available. Our doors are always open for both on-campus and distance learning students who have talent and an interest in information technology."
About the International Telecommunications Education and Research Association
ITERA endeavors to advance telecommunications science through the creation of a forum for telecommunications and networking professionals, educators, and researchers. The ITERA forum encourages and supports the creation and maintenance of telecommunications interest groups, conferences, proceedings and journals. ITERA member schools represent a wide range of programs that bring together a variety of academic areas. Member schools can be found in colleges/schools of business, engineering, technology, communications and liberal arts, and in interdisciplinary programs and stand-alone centers.
About the INT Department
Broadcasting education began at FHSU in 1950 when the institution offered radio classes. The program evolved into television and film in the 1960s, added telephony and computer networking in the 1990s, Web development in 2000 and information assurance in 2007. Currently, nearly 300 FHSU students annually participate in learning to create, distribute or to protect digital media. For more information, visit www.fhsu.edu/int.