GGC emerges as an IT powerhouse

One of GGC's Excalibur Awards, which is a Medieval-looking saber.
One of GGC’s three Excalibur Awards

Georgia Gwinnett has quickly established itself as a powerhouse in information technology and a key player in the northeast Atlanta metro area technology hub.

“Part of GGC’s vision is being a wellspring of innovation in education,” said Dr. Thomas Mundie, dean of the School of Science and Technology. “Our IT faculty and students have enthusiastically embraced this concept and achieved impressive results in a very short time.”

IT students and faculty have been prolific at developing new educational strategies, applications and technologies. They have competed in prominent programs, besting more established and larger organizations known for long-time leadership in the field.

In fact, one of Mundie’s purchases upon his office’s move into the new Allied Health and Sciences Building this coming summer … is a trophy case.

In addition to the mentorship of its creative faculty, the IT program benefits from a unique alliance with the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG). The first of its kind in the state and possibly the nation, the alliance enhances the student educational experience through TAG’s programming, resources and networking opportunities.

TAG is a 10,000-member organization dedicated to educating, uniting and informing the Georgia technology community. With nearly 30 profession-specific societies and special interest groups, as well as highly competitive award programs like the prestigious Excalibur Awards, TAG recognizes and works with organizations using innovation to gain a competitive advantage.

Members of the GGC team with the college's first Excalibur Award.
Members of the GGC team celebrate after winning the college’s first Excalibur Award in 2011.

In its first-ever attempt, GGC won a 2011 TAG Excalibur Award for an Apple-based technology that provides individualized learning, studying and classroom assistance for organic chemistry students. Using tablet devices, students access flash cards and podcasts reinforcing basic concepts, allowing faculty to use class time for more challenging material. Created by an interdisciplinary team, the project won a national Blackboard Catalyst Award for Mobile Innovation in 2012.

Also in 2012, another interdisciplinary GGC team won two Excalibur Awards – in education and creativity – for the “Solomon Project.” The project uses easily available technologies to maximize student engagement by “gamifying” critical reading and thinking, problem-solving, research, collaboration and effective oral and written communication.

Meanwhile, members of GGC’s student chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) were competing against hundreds of students from dozens of highly ranked college and university IT programs from across the nation – and winning.

Joe Armendariz and Kevin Jones holding a large green and gold trophy.
Joe Armendariz, ’13, and Kevin Jones, ’13, won the heavily coveted first place in database design at the 2013 AITP Conference … Georgia Gwinnett’s first national championship.

In 2011, at its first national AITP convention, GGC surprised the competition by winning third place in Java programming and fourth place in database design. In 2012, the GGC team again won fourth in database design.

Then in 2013, the GGC AITP team took third place in mobile applications development, second place in Java development and first place in database design … Georgia Gwinnett’s first-ever national championship.

Most recently, students in an undergraduate research group have made remarkable achievements. Led by Drs. Robert Lutz and Evelyn Brannock, both assistant professors of information technology, members of the group have:

  • Placed in the top five for best use of technology in a classroom or program in TAG’s STEM Education Awards.
  • Created an application that advances a widespread, student feedback system enabling instructors to query students at a moment’s notice.
  • Developed a smartphone-, laptop- and tablet-enabled app as a no-cost alternative to a dedicated device.
  • Placed third with a team research paper presentation at the annual Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges – Southeast Conference.

“At GGC, we’re part of the IT future,” Lutz said. “We’re as capable of meaningful contributions and innovations as the most elite institutions.”

Student Patrick Musasa, IT faculty members Drs. Evelyn Brannock and Robert Lutz, and student Derek Donaldson display a software application that measures feelings within groups via signals from headsets like what Musasa is wearing.
Student Patrick Musasa, IT faculty members Drs. Evelyn Brannock and Robert Lutz, and student Derek Donaldson display a software application that measures feelings within groups via signals from headsets like what Musasa is wearing.

Two group members, Robert Curtis and Derek Donaldson, were included by Lutz and Brannock on a provisional patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent combines EEG brain signals from multiple people and renders them as sound waves. This invention allows observation of patterns of emotion across a group of people and can be applied to areas such as health, fitness, education and entertainment.

“While awards are very meaningful, the real impact of our program is preparing highly trained and talented graduates who can meet Georgia’s growing demand for IT professionals,” said Mundie. “With the robust experiences gained here, they are well-equipped for successful and rewarding careers.”

Still, Mundie might need a very, very large trophy case.

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