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Real World Lessons: IST Students Build Database for School

IST Major Jessica Noland works on an assignment in the campus IST Lab.
IST Major Jessica Noland works on an assignment in the campus IST Lab.
12/14/2011 —

A group of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) students at Penn State DuBois have helped a private school revamp a database that is used to manage one of the school's main fundraiser, ensuring funds will be available to continue educating children there.


As a class project, the students reached out to St. John the Evangelist Catholic School in Bellefonte.  The school was in need of an updated computer system to keep track of their Scrip program.  The program provides gift certificates that can be purchased at the school and redeemed at many retail outlets and businesses.  St. John then receives a portion of the proceeds.   


"This is really important because it's their main fundraiser," said Jessica Noland, a Penn State DuBois IST major who worked on the project.  "This new system will help them to take care of this program more efficiently." 


In a presentation, Noland explained that staff members at St. John had been using an antiquated system that was not only less user friendly than the new system, but also lacked an archive, so information could not automatically be retained from year to year. This left staff members with the responsibility of recording the information manually. 


"They'll gain efficiency, and have less human error coming into play," Noland said.  "This new database provides data storage, archiving, and solved some issues they had with printing." 


The students will also continue to maintain the system for St. John's, and return there to trouble shoot it should any issues arise. 


Jason Long, instructor and program leader for IST at Penn State DuBois, said projects like this give his students a first-hand look at what it will be like to work in their field.  He said, "They go out and find a local organization with a real problem, and they find a solution for them.  It's not just an academic project.  It's a real-world project that also helps them develop the professional skills they'll need to work with clients."


Long said such projects have been undertaken by his students at numerous businesses and organizations including restaurants, schools, and charitable organizations; each of them providing learning experience and networking opportunities for the students.  He said, "It has actually led to full-time positions for students who have had the opportunity to show employers what they can do through a hands-on project." 

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