Technology and Information Management/Knowledge Services and Enterprise Management

As the U.S. continues in its shift from a manufacturing to a services oriented economy, engineering education must respond.  Industry today needs talent for the development and commercialization of new and innovative knowledge services, the integration of information technology with the business processes they support, and the joint development of new technologies with accompanying business models.  The new program at UC Santa Cruz in the Baskin School of Engineering offers an M.S. and Ph.D. in Technology and Information Management (TIM) to meet these needs.  CITRIS Santa Cruz director Mantey has led this program for the past four years, shepherding its degree programs through the UC approval process as well as, via CITRIS, supporting the establishment of research in this area.  (Two of the three junior faculty hired by TIM received prestigious NSF CAREER awards this year.)

The TIM program fits into the tradition of engineering education, creating new engineering disciplines that respond to new technologies and industries.  “New” engineering disciplines of the past included electrical, aeronautical, nuclear, environmental, industrial, and mechanical and civil engineering, all responding to the technologies and the societal needs of those times.  TIM can be thought of as a new form of industrial engineering, focused not on manufacturing alone, but also on creating knowledge-based offerings and services, and on the technologies they require.  As such, it has information technology at its core, a major emphasis on networked computing systems, complex human-computer systems, and also modeling and other analytical tools for use in management and operational decision making.  At the University of California, Santa Cruz, we created TIM as a new program, drawing heavily from the existing expertise in computer science and computer engineering.  The new TIM program, which has an innovative curriculum and overall approach to engineering education, is built around the two closely related themes of knowledge management and networked systems.  The knowledge management area emphasizes applications, as services, or products, that are built by exploiting the knowledge derived from large information systems.  The networked systems area encompasses the network and information system infrastructure, with an emphasis on the new services such infrastructure can support, including cloud computing and knowledge services.  The graduates of the TIM program will be prepared to become leaders in the information technology management fields of the U.S. economy.

From extensive discussions with employers in Silicon Valley, as part of the development of the TIM graduate program proposal (and fitting with CITRIS), we have understood that these employers seek advanced computer science and engineering graduates who also know how to apply their engineering skills in a business context.  In developing the TIM program, we concluded that career success in the “high tech” economy requires graduates with the capacity to understand the technologies involved as well as how to develop and to manage products and services based on those technologies.  This requires a depth of understanding in the appropriate areas of computer science and engineering, an understanding of the essential business dimensions of these enterprises, and lastly, how to utilize technology to support such processes.  In “knowledge services,” the emphasis is on services based on information technology.  Companies that exemplify offerings of knowledge services include Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, eBay, Netflix, and PayPal, as well as all of those offering “software as a service.”  Success in this area requires an understanding of existing technologies, coupled with business knowledge and the analytical skills to develop viable solutions that, although theoretically sophisticated, can be implemented in a timely fashion.  Successful participants and leaders in these high technology enterprises must be able to develop a vision of a productized service and then articulate and “market” that vision within their organization.  The TIM Program, with its emphases on the integration of information technology and business needs, is ideal for preparing engineers and leaders who will contribute to this growing field.

The TIM Program faculty works with many firms in the Valley, such as AOL, Cisco, Google, Microsoft, SAP, and IBM. Innovative new courses such as Computational Advertising have been taught jointly with lead executives and researchers at Yahoo!. CITRIS has played a critical role in providing telecast capabilities for connecting the Santa Cruz and Silicon Valley campuses for teaching and research purposes. In addition, CITRIS provided some seed funding of research students, which enabled the development of significant research programs, with corresponding support from Valley firms such as Cisco, as well as provided space for collaborative research programs.