Master’s Program Gives Henderson the Interaction He Preferred

Chris Henderson presents

After deciding to pursue another school’s master of business administration (MBA) program with a technology emphasis, state technologist Chris Henderson soon realized he had another decision to make.  

“What I failed to realize was how much the social learning component meant to me,” he says. “Selecting a graduate program is not just about the academics, but also about the network of people and faculty that you work with, and the program that I selected was not ideal for my needs.”  

When he learned about Ball State’s online master of science in information and communication sciences (ICS)—and its interdisciplinary blend of technology, business, leadership, and communications—Chris says what to do next “was an easy decision to make.” 

Works Between Technology, Partner Agencies 

Bearing the title of what he calls “a word salad,” Chris is deputy chief technology officer for enterprise architecture and relationship management for the State of Indiana, through the Indiana Office of Technology. 

“My role is to help facilitate and steward the collaboration between the centralized technology support agency and the 75-plus partner agencies we serve,” he says. 

Chris has worked for four state agencies over the last 20 years and says he “‘grew up’ working in the Indiana State Park system, starting my public service at 20 years old.”

“Serving Hoosiers is Powerful Motivator” 

“The mission-focused work and reward of serving Hoosiers has been a powerful motivator for me since joining the State,” says Chris. “Many of the folks I have worked with over the years have been incredibly smart, diligent workers, and truly passionate about what they do.” 

That passion is infectious, he says.  

“There is a very good chance that I will end up hiring ICS alumni to join us at the Indiana Office of Technology,” says Chris. 

The flexibility of the online MS in ICS program enabled him to go part-time across six semesters and substitute a course that supported his career plans instead of a core requirement. He graduated with his master’s in 2021. 

Immersive Learning Taught in Every Course 

“The immersive learning opportunities and real-world issues were true in nearly every course for me with some specific examples including conducting competitive analysis for a pre-startup company, writing machine learning algorithms for facial recognition, and producing research and recommendations for cloud architecture for a consulting company,” says Chris of the program’s course work. 

The program’s social learning components provided him the network of professionals and alumni he wanted. 

Life’s Possibilities Inspired by Alumni Network 

“These folks were honestly world class and offered perspectives and insights that are invaluable to those considering careers or roles in specific segments of the industry,” he says. “Numerous conversations with faculty and alumni have both inspired me and expanded my view of what is possible in my life.” 

Being able to bounce ideas off classmates in roles like his has been a great resource, he adds. 

“The course work was engaging, practical, and incredibly relevant to innovation and emerging technologies,” says Chris. “The program isn’t easy, but I had a great deal of fun along the way taking on that challenge and met a stellar network of students, faculty, and alumni.” 

 

Erin Boomershine Inspired to Pursue Master’s Degree While Wrapping Up Bachelor’s

While finishing her bachelor’s in computer and information technology (CIT), Erin Boomershine was already doing graduate research toward Ball State’s online master of science in information and communication sciences. 

In fact, she’s teaming up with Ball State professors on two research projects. 

A primary project, “The Machine Wisdom Project,” will have local application, says Erin. Her research, along with that of Chris Davison, associate professor of computer and information technology, and David Hua, associate professor of computer technology, will lead to an application allowing students in the Applied Technology building to register their comfort level with the building’s temperature. An artificial intelligence system will use that information to, ultimately, alter the HVAC system to improve student comfort.  

Erin Receives Funding for CareDEX Project 

For a secondary project, known as CareDEX, Erin has received funding from the University of California-Irvine’s Summer Research Undergraduate Fellowship. CareDEX, a project founded by Professor Davison, enables an “incident commander” to communicate with first responders in case of an emergency in assisted living facilities. Erin’s role is to encourage local assisted living facilities to participate in the research and testing process.  

Explaining her fascination with computer and information technology, Erin says, “It encourages exploration and discussion regarding common problems in the world of computers. This discussion allows students to begin crafting their own solutions, which is one of the things I love about CIT.” 

Says Smaller Classes Meet Student Needs 

Erin insists that “smaller class sizes make the learning experience more tailored to students’ needs.” 

That was the case, she says, in courses such as systems administration fundamentals, internetwork design and administration, and infrastructure services. She not only explored a variety of subjects but also discussed her exploration with classmates.  

“All of these classes were extremely immersive as the final projects were case studies or RFPs,” says Erin, referring to projects where students function as tech consultants. “Not only were these projects interesting but they allowed me to understand the formal communication aspect of technology, which I have grown to love.” 

 Worked as Teaching Assistant 

As an undergraduate, Erin worked as a teaching assistant within the Department of Computer Science on campus.  

“This position helped me further my formal communication regarding technology and code,” she says. “I have learned multiple ways to explain problems and solutions to those who may not be CIT or computer science students.” 

Profs Showed Erin Her Potential 

Professors Davison and Hua helped Erin understand her potential when she was a CIT major.  

“Both of these professors have helped me understand CIT from an outside and industry perspective via personal stories,” she says. “These stories helped me understand the vast area this major covers and all the possibilities that will be unlocked post-graduation.” 

Post-graduation, Erin plans to become a business analyst or technology consultant. 

How One Graduate Found His Future in the Cloud


“Lots of electives. Lots of options. In addition to corporate, you can do project management or the more technical. I gravitated toward the technical side.”
 

Nathan Hiscock, client innovation director for CleanSlate Technology Group in Carmel, Indiana is talking about Ball State University’s online master of science in information and communication science.   

 “Lots of opportunities for networking and building relationships. And the program is not so . . .” He winces before he says the word. “Not so . . . academic.” 

An Academic Program With Real-World Projects 

His point is that the online master’s in information and communication science is a classroom complete with industry challenges in real-time. You negotiate while collaborating with business professionals, faculty active in their industries, student peers in mid-career, and alumni who have proven themselves in the realm of management and technology leadership.

Nathan likes the fact that incoming students are required to have three years of work experience,  who, in his opinion, “have better mindsets and a certain level of professionalism.” 

“If you’re used to doing it a certain way,” he says, “it can be frustrating to work with someone who’s not producing.” 

As far as collaborating with alumni leaders, Nathan was already one of those alumni leaders when he enrolled. 

Earned His Bachelor’s in Computer Science 

After earning his Ball State bachelor of science in computer science in 1999, he worked in IT software services consulting for more than 20 years while also launching several businesses. 

But when weekly cross-country travel began creating more stress than he wanted early in his career, and with a second baby on the way, he realized “his higher calling as a father and husband took priority.” 

That’s why, in 2010, he established 3i Consulting, a technology consulting firm where Nathan was president, solutions architect, and creative ideator for more than a decade. 

In 2021, he decided to reinvent himself, pursue Ball State’s master’s program, and focus on the cloud practitioner curriculum to learn the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform and operate competently in that expanding technology environment.   

Cloud Technology Class Hooks Hiscock 

Ball State was the first university in the country to partner with  AWS Academy to deliver this curriculum. With his first class on cloud technology, Nathan was obsessed. 

After earning the foundational certificate as AWS Cloud Certified Practitioner, he completed certificates designated as AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, AWS Business Professional, and AWS Cloud Economics. 

In addition to cloud technologies, the master’s also allowed Nathan to explore and develop leadership, communication, and technical skills relevant to today’s companies and organizations.  

Because faculty are actively engaged in creating career opportunities through the program’s active alumni association and industry partnerships, students like Nathan are provided career development workshops and faculty mentoring to help guide them to jobs that match their career ambitions.

Professors Guide Him to CleanSlate 

For Nathan, faculty recommended the position of client innovation director with CleanState. “I collaborated with my professors who by then knew me and my capabilities,” he says. 

Nathan is responsible for partnerships, solution packaging, presales, and demand generation for CleanSlate’s service products.  

“I engage partnerships, drive the pursuit process, provide technical presales support, lead training and seminars, train sales staff on service products, help market our products, build community, and recruit talent.” 

The master’s program couldn’t have been more central to his professional advancement for Nathan.  

“The program is more than just learning academic content,” he explains. “Sure, there’s plenty of that, but there’s also community. You learn about yourself. You gain new advisors with insight into your potential and partners in your future. Alumni believe in the program and bring you along as well.” 

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