Northwestern State University’s computer information systems program is receiving a $50,000 grant from State Farm Insurance.  The grant continues State Farm’s long-term support of NSU’s computer information systems program, according to grant principal investigator Dr. Jack Russell. 

“We thank State Farm for their willingness to support our program over several years,” said Russell, who is the coordinator of the CIS program.  “Their help has allowed Northwestern’s computer information systems program to be one of the leading programs in the U.S. and produce graduates that top companies like State Farm want to hire.” 

State Farm has designated Northwestern as a “key institution” for computer information systems, meaning the company’s information technology professionals recognize the program as one of the top five in the U.S.  A large number of Northwestern graduates work at State Farm’s Bloomington, Ill., headquarters, leading the NSU Alumni Association to hold alumni gatherings in the area.  Northwestern students also gain internships at State Farm.  Last summer, four NSU students, Whitney Williams of Florien, Lori Engolia of Covington, Steven Cambron of Leesville and Philip Melder of Pineville interned at State Farm and all were offered full-time jobs. 

According to Russell, the grant enables the university to replace aging smart boards and projection systems in four computer information systems classrooms and labs with new high resolution, large screen smart boards, purchase a sympodium teacher workstation in one additional classroom and buy 20 high-end lap top computers with “charging safes” for the CIS State Farm Foundation Room.  The university will also be able to redo flooring for three computer information systems classrooms and for the student study room, provide additional scholarship support for students and purchase equipment to assist the computer information systems program. 

“Northwestern recruits top students for our computer information systems program.  These students want to be able to learn and work on the most up to date hardware and software,” said Russell.  “The grant helps us in upgrading our facilities to meet their expectations.” 

NSU’s CIS program has won 11 national championships in one or more software development areas in the last 12 years.  The program emphasizes object-oriented technologies, database design, Unified Modeling Language (UML), computer security, cyber forensics, network design and large scale, enterprise-wide software development in both Java and Cobol.  The program is adding courses in smart phone, iPad and iPod application development.

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