By Ian Ross
In keeping with the City of Greater Sudbury's mandate to establish a thriving information technology sector, Laurentian University is unveiling a new four-year e-commerce degree program.
About 50 students are expected to be enrolled in the honours bachelor of commerce and computer science program when classes begin in September.
The program is designed to groom Laurentian students for management positions in the growing e-business sector of the economy, says Les Davison, chairman of Laurentian's department of mathematics and science.
A unique and very rigorous program unlike any other offered in Canada, Davison says the idea came about through feedback from computer science graduates who had gone into the working world and later expressed a desire to move into the management ranks by going back to school.
"It's a versatile degree, and that’s one of the things we heard from former students who wanted to learn the tools of operating their own business," says Davison.
The program will give computer programmers the management skills to enhance their career growth opportunities.
The curriculum will also arm these joint-program students with the expertise to carry out a comprehensive e-business strategy using information technology applications. Course material covered will be e-business applications, operation and process analysis, enterprise application software, Web data management and applied networks. Students will also learn management fundaments of marketing, human resource management, finance and management accounting.
To be accepted into the program students will need a minimum 80 per cent average in Ontario Academic Credits.
For the first year Davison says the university went the conservative route admitting only 50 students, but thus far they are encouraged with the early results of their marketing campaign, with 25 people registered by mid-December. Quite likely they will expand the program to 80 seats by 2003 and take on more faculty, he adds.
"There will be job positions opening up a year from now," says Davison. "It sounds good so far, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that this comes together."
They also hope to strike a partnership with technology firms, similar to the arrangement made with Sun Microsystems, who collaborated with Laurentian to outfit their computer science department with equipment.
The flexibility to cater to working professionals seeking to upgrade their skills as part-time students has not been addressed yet, though individual courses can be taken on a part-time basis. Applications to deliver the program in an electronic-learning format for distance education possibilities may be years down the road, he says.
For the first few years program officials will monitor the career paths of its graduates and fine-tune the material as required.
An annual scholarship of between $1000 and $4000, up to a maximum of $14,000 over four years, is guaranteed for students who have, and maintain, an average of 80 per cent.