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Spring 2010

IST Students Power THON Technology: 6 - 7 Alumni Society Hosts Women in Technology Panel: 10 - 11

As the interim dean for the College of Information Sciences and Technology, I am continually amazed by, and proud of, our students and faculty. On a daily basis, I receive compliments from corporate executives, military officers, and government officials about our students’ professionalism, enthusiasm, and high performance. Recently, a team of our undergraduates participated in the national Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency red balloon contest to find 10 balloons distributed around the U. S. on a Saturday in December. The College of IST team created very innovative methods for mining cyberspace and came in 10th in a competition of 3800 registered teams. Some of the undergraduates presented their solution at the iSchool conference in February and were effusively lauded by other college deans and faculty. This continues to be an exciting time for IST. One of our graduates, David Rusenko, has been awarded the Penn State Alumni Achievement award, becoming the youngest alumni to receive this prestigious award. We also have a new Associate Dean for Education, Dr. Fred Fonseca, who is highlighted in this issue, and a new initiative with the Peking University in China. Finally, our new educational programs including our Master of Professional Studies degree and Enterprise Architecture certificate program and track are being widely accepted in the professional community. As we near the end of the semester, I hope all of you experience an excellent summer and that you will stay in touch. Dave Hall, Interim Dean College of Information Sciences and Technology 2 | College of Information Sciences and Technology

photo by Stefan Choquette Onward State .com

Dean’s Message

iConnect • Spring 2010

6 IST Students Power THON

FEATURES 6 College of Information Sciences and Technology Interim Dean David Hall Editor Jaime Lynch

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Alumni Society Hosts Women in Technology Panel

IST Alumni Society recently held an event to showcase women in technology and inspire high school and college students to consider careers in IT.

IST Alumni David Rusenko Receives Penn State Alumni Achievement Award

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Writers Jenna Spinelle Kim Nguyen Graphic Design Kelly Bryan

IST Students Power THON Technology

Students, Zack Gable, Tim Nary, Rob Tomaro, Chase Tralka, and Kayla Wells are just a few of the IST students making up part of the THON Technology Captains.

DEPARTMENTS 2 From the Dean

Interim Dean David Hall talks about the exciting future of IST.

Multimedia Specialist/Photography Emilee Spokus


First Person

Alumni Relations Specialist Sherry Langrock


IST Around the State


Beyond the Personnel File


IST Alumni Society President’s Message


Alumni Society News


Class Notes

Contact Us: iConnect Inquiries Jenna Spinelle 814-865-7888 Alumni Relations Sherry Langrock Ph: 814-863-75488

IST Student Patrick Lunney, recounts his experience on the CIA/Northrop Grumann Field Trip Penn State Abington: Partnerships with Germany and Penn State Schuylkill: Student Videos Highlight Community Fred Fonseca, associate professor of information sciences and technology, was recently named the College of IST’s Associate Dean for Education. aljfl;aksjflsajflsjflasfjlasfjlafjlsafjlsfjl;sk

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Security was very high at the CIA. We pulled into the visitor center and were given visitor passes. We then boarded the bus again and drove to the agency. As we toured the agency, our tour guides discussed the many different types of programs and career tracks that CIA has to offer. During an opportunity for socializing and networking, we met many people who spoke highly of the quality of life in working for the agency. It was interesting to see people just like us working for such a world-renown organization. It was very informative and we all learned a lot.

Field Trip to CIA & Northrop Grumann The IST Student Government sponsored a field trip to visit the CIA headquarters and Northrop Grumann in January. About 40 students went on the trip, including Patrick Lunney, a sophomore who shared his thoughts about the day:

Our next stop was Northrop Grumman, where we were able to see some very advanced technology that was really cool, to say the least. There were enormous touch screen tables that could be wirelessly connected and altered by a simple iPhone. These touch screens, which run anywhere from $10,000 to $400,000, were able to do just about anything. Major cities could be displayed with great detail. If a major event was taking place, such as a presidential speech, this touch screen would help in the strategic placing of snipers and road blocks in order to ensure the president’s safety. There were computer setups that were quite advanced, and automated mechanical displays that could rise and fall in order to make presentations from one’s desk.

We then entered the business/office area, which doubles as a lounge. It would be a very comfortable working environment, I’m sure. There was a lot of interesting technology here, too. A coffee bar with neon lights in order to improve appearance, conference rooms with television displays, and a camera that aims at the person speaking just to give a few examples. The group then split into five smaller teams and began working on a simulation crisis. The simulation my team was given dealt with a denial of service attack against the United States and coming up with a solution to the problem of moving targets. We were given 30 minutes to arrive at an answer and prepare a PowerPoint presentation that we would deliver to the entire group. This was a fun experience, and I learned a lot. After a bit of networking and picture taking, we boarded the bus and headed home. Four hours later we pulled into the IST parking lot and the day was complete. What started at 3:00 a.m. ended at about 10:00 p.m. It was a very long day, but definitely worth it. Hopefully we will be able to do something like it again soon.

photos by: Patrick Lunney

As the alarm clock sounded at 3:15 a.m., I rose from bed in a near zombie-like state. I had just managed to fall asleep a few hours earlier and was quite exhausted. As I began to put on my business attire the exhaustion turned to excitement. Once on the bus, we all began talking and speculating about what we would be seeing on the trip. Given how early we were up, it wasn’t long before I fell asleep on the bus. I awoke about 20 minutes before we arrived at the CIA headquarters, so at that point I began to get myself ready for the day ahead.

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THON, Penn State’s IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. The event is aimed at conquering childhood cancer, and raised more than $7.8 million in 2010. The yearlong fundraising effort culminates each year in February, with a 46-hour no sitting, no sleeping dance marathon in the Bryce Jordan Center. Several committees are part of THON, including the Technology Committee. The THON technology captains, split up into different teams, are responsible for everything technology. This includes the PASS system, a web application used to control access to the floor during THON; THINK, THON’s information network system designed to manage what’s going on within THON; and, THON’s website. Several captains also can be seen in the IST building, as the majority of them are students in the College of IST. With their commitment to THON as well as their academics, they tend to run into each other in and out of the classroom.

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“Being able to see them in the halls of the IST building and bounce ideas off of them has been a big help,” says Chase Tralka (junior—IST and SRA). “We hang out together, bounce ideas off of each other and help each other out with schoolwork.” The students use their skills gained from IST and apply it to their positions as technology captains. Tim Nary (junior—IST and SRA) says the skills learned in the classroom have helped him with his role as a THINK developer. “I’ve worked with PHP and MySQL in IST 210– Organization of Data, which is great because THINK utilizes them to manipulate data and complex arrays and store it in the database,” he said. “You also can’t help but look at THON as a giant project after taking IST 302–Project Management.”

“Throwing a group of people together who have similar, but not equal interests, who come from all different backgrounds and seeing how we formed, bonded, and became a family is really incredible,” she said.

Images from THON 2010: 1. The technology committee members working with the

Zack Gable (senior—IST and SRA) said the people skills gained in IST have helped him throughout his four years and most likely beyond.

PASS system, a system developed to monitor and control

“A lot of the IST classes I have been in have taught me to speak my voice when needed and have therefore developed me into a better leader,” he said. “IST prepares people for the real world in that it all revolves around many other people.”

2. Morale captains leading the THON 2010 Line Dance.

access to who’s on the floor during THON. Photo: Stefan Choquette, Onward

Photo: Andy Colwell, Penn State Live

3. The grand total unveiled at the end of THON—the total this year of $7.8 million beat the previous total of $7.4 million. Photo: Andy Colwell, Penn State Live

THON 2010 was held Feb. 19-21, with a theme Love Belongs Here. The total raised this year was $7,838,054.36, beating out the record set last year. For more information on THON, visit

4. Students enjoy the company of the Four Diamonds Kids and their families all weekend long. Photo: Stefan Choquette, Onward

Kayla Wells (senior—IST) said the emphasis on group work in IST classes has made it easier for her to work in the committee.

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IST Alumni Reflect on their THON Experiencs courage






College of IST students have taken part on THON since the college’s early days. iConnect asked alumni to share their photos of THON, and these are some of the photos we received:

3 1. Justin Miller (IST ’05) on an IST Student Government canning trip for THON in 2004. Canning trips take place on several weekends leading up to THON and allow students to raise money for their organizations. Photo submitted by Justin Miller. 6

2. Laura Thomas, who danced for the IST Student Government in 2008, is pictured with Deena Shatten, IST alumna Meghan Palmer, and Amy Huff. THON raised $6,615,318.04 in 2008. Photo submitted by Laura Thomas.






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3. IST Student Government dancers in 2003 were Julie Abraham, Omkar Sawardeker, Justin Miller, and Lindsey Zboray. 2003 was the first year that THON had more than 700 dancers. Photo submitted by Justin Miller 4. Thomas and Palmer also had their photo taken with the Nittany Lion during THON weekend in 2008, the second year that THON was held in the Bryce Jordan Center. Photo submitted by Laura Thomas.

5. Laura Teta, Jennifer (Johnson) Hablas, Peter Vuong, and Mike Spangler represented the IST Student Government during THON 2004. Vuong says, “THON was one of my most rewarding and memorable experiences at Penn State. I was on a THON committee for the Penn

State Lehigh Valley campus, and I knew I wanted to get more involved with THON when I transferred to University Park. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to dance for IST Student Government. I could not have done it without the support of my family, friends, and fellow IST students. The energy in Rec Hall never ended for the entire weekend.” 6. Games organized by THON committee members are one way that dancers pass the time during the weekend. Photo submitted by Laura Thomas.

7. Dancers representing the IST Student Government in 2005 included Chelesa Prokay, Angela Govila, Peter Vuong, and Eric Hosler. 2005 marked the introduction of blue “For the Kids” bracelets and a new fundraising record of $4,122, 483.65. Photo submitted by Peter Vuong.

8. IST alumnus Peter Herr poses near the crowd of onlookers during THON 2008 in the Bryce Jordan Center. Photo submitted by Laura Thomas.

9. Students line the “Slide of Strength” mat, designed to give dancers a few moments off their feet and allow them time to enjoy a 10-second massage by THON committee members. Slides of Strength occur periodically throughout THON weekend.

To learn more about THON and view past image galleries visit the official THON Website,

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Women Technology in


Alumni Society Hosts Women in Technology Panel To help promote female enrollment in the College of IST, the IST Alumni Society recently held an event to showcase women in technology and inspire high school and college students to consider careers in IT. Titled “Go FIT: Leading Females in Information Technology,” the event held on February 27 at the Nittany Lion Inn brought together corporate leaders and College of IST alumni and faculty to answer questions posed by students. Panelists for the event included Mary Hill-Hartman of IBM, Regina Kunkle of NetApp, Cynthia Brennan of Webhouse, Inc., Lona Cooper and Purvi Shah of Deloitte Consulting, IST Ph.D. student Michelle Young, and IST professors Rosalie Ocker and Irene Petrick. Prerana Dalal, president of the IST Alumni Society, was one of the event’s organizers and said she was pleased with the turnout and the questions asked

by students at the program. “We had both male and female students in the audience and we talked about everything from seizing opportunities to striking a good work-life balance,” she said. “There was some really great advice about how to manage a career and still have a family, friends, and a life outside of work.” Panelists had a wide range of experiences in both business and technology, which Dalal said fit well with the interdisciplinary nature of IST. “Not all of the panelists had IST backgrounds, but that was okay because IST encompasses both technology and business,” she said. The evening also included a Guitar Hero competition and a networking reception, where students were able to interact one-on-one with the panelists. The event was open to students from across Penn State. “It was great for the students to hear from females who are in positions like they’ll have when the graduate and hear from IST alumni who’ve been in their shoes as students in the college,” Dalal said. The event was sponsored by the IST Alumni Society, Women in IST, and Webhouse, Inc. Dalal said the society plans to hold similar events in the future; any alumni interested in participating can e-mail her at

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IST Around the State Penn State Abington and Schuylkill Penn State Abington: Partnerships with Germany Students from Penn State Abington are involved in several partnerships with German students and companies. Joe Oakes, a senior lecturer in IST, and his students worked on an RFID project with other German students over Spring Break, and also took the time to do a little sightseeing. They visited places included the City of Dresden and a BMW factory. IST students at Penn State Abington have also worked with German students to build a 3D PC game for Microsoft and took summer courses in Germany. “In class, they worked together with students from all over the world—Russia, Egypt, Greece,

Penn State Abington IST students spent Spring Break in Berlin, Germany visiting historical sites, including the Brandenburg Gate, which is shown in the picture.

Italy, Nigeria, India, Philippines, Macedonia, and Ukraine,” Oakes said. “During the three-week course, they also traveled to visit German companies, including Seimens MRI factory in Nuremberg and the BMW factory in Leipzig.” Penn State Schuylkill: Student Videos Highlight Community How do you teach students about the community in which their campus is located and teach them communication skills and digital storytelling techniques all at the same time? The answer is: Digital VISION. Digital VISION is a partnership between Penn State Schuylkill campus, College of IST students and Schuylkill County’s VISION (, a local non-profit group that encourages community social action. In Digital VISION, students are learning the skills needed to produce brief video documentaries. These videos highlight the diversity of culture, people and events across Schuylkill County. Students enrolled in the fall 2009 IST 301: Information and Organizations course had the opportunity to learn interviewing, videography, editing and

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communication skills while producing a series of short videos documenting various local community cultural events and activities. These videos are slated to be part of VISION’s Schuylkill County Film Festival in April 2010. This film festival will spotlight the diversity of cultural and community events within Schuylkill County, using the IST student videos as well as videos from local high school contributors. In addition to teaching students valuable communication skills, this project also supports Penn State Schuylkill’s 2009-2010 teaching theme, “Diversity within Community,” by providing students with opportunities to explore the social, cultural, and economic diversity around them. Schuylkill VISION is able to leverage the Penn State students’ knowledge and efforts to inform community stakeholders about important activities around Schuylkill County. For more information about the Digital VISION project, contact Jeffrey Stone, instructor of information sciences and technology, Penn State Schuylkill at, or Joanne Parulis, Schuylkill VISION executive director, at

Stay Connected

To receive news and updates from the College of IST, connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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p e r s o n nfile el by Jenna Spinelle

Fred Fonseca Associate Dean for Education

Fred Fonseca, associate professor of information sciences and technology, was recently named the College of IST’s associate dean for education—filling the role that was formerly held by Stan Supon. Here, Fred answers a few questions about his new role and the experiences that led him there. Question: What are your responsibilities as Associate Dean for Education? Answer: I supervise undergraduate, graduate, and online educational activities. I also represent the College of IST at the Academic Council of Undergraduate Education and at the Advisory Committee on Graduate Education. Question: What did you do before you came to the College of IST? Answer: I was a software engineer. In the 10 years before getting my Ph.D. and joining IST, I was worked with GIS (Geographic Information Systems). Question: What are your hobbies? Answer: I like to read and follow Brazilian soccer. Question: What was the last book you read? Answer: I just finished A Most Wanted Man by John LeCarre. Question: What’s on your iPod right now? Answer: Professor Herbert Dreyfus lectures on Heidegger. These are part of the University of Berkeley podcasts.

Question: How do you relax? Answer: Walking and watching TV with my wife and daughter. Question: What is your little-known claim to fame? Answer: I “almost” made it into the Brazilian soccer major league. In Brazil, if you want to play soccer you don’t usually go through college. So, for me, it would have meant dropping out of my studies, including a college degree. As you would imagine, my family was heavily against it and that’s what prevailed. Question: What are you most proud of? Answer: My IST 240 class because it is a class that I enjoy teaching and the students enjoy taking. It is very challenging for the students, and I like to see how they face it. They struggle in the beginning and, little by little, they are in charge of it and have fun while learning Java. Question: What’s your favorite part of your job? Answer: As I mentioned before, teaching is the favorite part of my job. There is nothing like being in a classroom working with students.

Question: What’s your favorite movie? Answer: It is hard to pick just one. I will go with a director instead: Frank Capra and the movies he made in the 1930s and 40s. 14| College of Information Sciences and Technology

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Rusenko Offers Advice on Starting a Startup

According to IST alumnus David Rusenko, a business is all about solving a problem that a lot of people have. Nothing else matters unless a solution is in place. As co-founder and CEO of Weebly, a rapidly growing online startup, Rusenko knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. He shared his story with College of IST students, faculty, and staff on a recent trip back to Happy Valley to receive a Penn State Alumni Achievement Award. Rusenko is the first College of IST graduate to win this award and the youngest Penn Stater to do so. “If you can find a solution to a problem that a lot of people have, there’s your company,” Rusenko said. “The key is finding a problem that a lot of people actually have, not just something that you think a lot of people have.” Weebly was conceived as part of Rusenko’s IST 402 class, which required students to build a Web application. Rusenko and his teammates realized there was no easy way for people to build and publish Web sites for personal use. That’s the problem he’s been focused on solving for the past four years. Rusenko, along with IST alumnus Chris Fanini and Smeal College of Business alumnus Dan Veltri, started to build Weebly during their senior year at Penn State and the summer preceding it. They moved to San Francisco after graduation to pursue funding opportunities in Silicon Valley.

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Their first big opportunity came from YCombinator, a venture firm specializing in early-stage startups. Weebly received $20,000 in seed money, and the founders had the opportunity to present to investors at the end of their tenure in the program. Things continued to snowball from there, and the company became profitable in January 2009. Rusenko said nearly 30 million people worldwide visit a Weebly-created site each month, and the site has more than four million registered users. Even if a startup company fails, Rusenko said the experience gained is well worth the effort put forth. “You’ll still end up with a great resume,” he said. “You’ll be able to show that you know how to do what you say you can do.” Rusenko also encouraged students to pursue careers with startups, saying they provide an opportunity to directly impact the company’s success. “You also get a ticket to the ‘lottery’ if the company gets sold, you could end up making millions of dollars,” he said. Rusenko was one of 13 Penn State graduates to receive an Alumni Achievement Award this year. The award is given annually to alumni under 35 who have reached an extraordinary level of professional accomplishment. Awards were presented on April 9 by Penn State President Graham Spanier.

Bachelor of Arts

in Information Sciences and Technology The College of IST’s newest major is designed for students who want to combine technology with art, music, social sciences, or humanities. For more information, contact: IST Advising Center at or 814-865-8947. Spring 2010 | 17

IST Alumni Society President’s Message

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Alumni Society News

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By Jenna Spinelle

Class Notes

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IST’s Alumni Web Site Stay connected with the College of IST Alumni Society at Learn how you can get involved in the society, receive information about upcoming events, and network with your fellow alumni.


The Pennsylvania State University is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to programs, facilities, admission, and employment without regard to personal characteristics not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities. It is the policy of the University to maintain an academic and work environment free of discrimination, including harassment. The Pennsylvania State University prohibits discrimination and harassment against any person because of age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status. Discrimination or harassment against faculty, staff, or students will not be tolerated at The Pennsylvania State University. Direct all inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policy to the Affirmative Action Director, The Pennsylvania State University, 328 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802-5901; Tel 814-865-4700/V, 814-863-1150/TTY. U.Ed. IST 10-14.

iConnect Spring 2010  
iConnect Spring 2010  

IST Powers Thon