Services: Science, Management and Engineering curriculum launched

The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) is pleased to announce that IBM is supporting a new curriculum initiative in Services: Science, Management and Engineering (SSME) designed to prepare graduate students for careers in the emerging multidisciplinary field of services sciences, engineering, and management.

The new curriculum addresses the expansion of the services sector, which now represent over 75 percent of the U.S. economy. As the country’s economy shifts from a manufacturing base to an information services base, the services field is growing rapidly. Companies across the board are making new business opportunities by streamlining business procedures, constructing more efficient IT systems, and embracing the online marketplace. At IBM, services now account for about half of the company’s revenue. The globalization of the services workforce raises new and complex issues for services providers since they need to manage their workers’ time and skills efficiently in order to be competitive.

However, the services field does not have a solid foundation of data and research, let alone a base for educational offerings. To that end, professors and staff at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz are developing a curriculum and research agenda focused on services. With its emphasis on its multidisciplinary research and mission of tackling society-wide issues, CITRIS is taking a lead role in furthering this new discipline by launching an SSME certificate program for UC Berkeley graduate students. Recently, CITRIS hosted a luncheon to honor Corporate Founding Member IBM’s support of the new program, and the announcement of a program director is forthcoming.

“Universities have an important role to play in conducting research that will innovate current services and create future ones, in addition to preparing graduates to meet the demands of today and tomorrow’s workforce,” said S. Shankar Sastry, the director of CITRIS and a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at
UC Berkeley.

“There is a building momentum around the world for SSME, and it’s great to have CITRIS as a partner since Berkeley is one of pioneers of services science,” said James Spohrer, the director of services research at IBM Almaden Research Center. “Curriculum reform is difficult, changing agendas is difficult, but this is one important direction that the world is going.”

"What we at IBM bring to the table is specific business problems, obviously, but also what you might call the Fort Knox of services data,” noted Paul Maglio, senior manager of service systems research at IBM Almaden Research Center. “What academia brings to us is this broad capability of asking the right questions of these systems, unlocking our data, and helping us to work across disciplines in ways we can’t necessarily imagine doing at the outset. It’s a process we have to go through together."

IBM has been a major catalyst for the UC Berkeley campus’s efforts in establishing a coherent foundation for defining what services are as a whole. Among its related activities, IBM has sponsored an IBM/Berkeley Day on Services in 2003, has supported projects such as the Adaptive Networked Infrastructure initiative, and has conferred IBM Faculty Awards in Services sciences, Management and Engineering to Berkeley faculty members.   

The new program at CITRIS draws on research and teaching in computer science and engineering, business strategy, and management sciences to help students develop the skills required in a technology-based, services-driven economy.  In addition to Berkeley the initial development of the program will be at the CITRIS partner campus of UC Santa Cruz.

The new curriculum is needed because, as Jean Paul Jacob noted, “most Berkeley graduates will work in a services economy, but their backgrounds in engineering, business, etc, will still be extremely relevant because of the ecosystem that includes services, technology and management. That is what SSME on campus will be preparing students for, and IBM is definitely a key partner in this area.” Having worked at both IBM and Berkeley for many years, Jacob has been an essential conduit in establishing the program by interacting with CITRIS on SSME issues and bringing information as well as resources.

A team of faculty members from the College of Engineering, the Haas School of Business and the School for Information and Management Systems are developing a curriculum of new services-related courses that, together with other courses, will lead to a certificate program for graduate students in the three participating colleges. The certificate program is modeled on UC Berkeley’s Management of Technology certificate program offered jointly between the College of Engineering and Haas School of Business.  The first students will enroll in this program in the fall of 2006.  The certificate program at Santa Cruz will start after the Berkeley program does. Over a period of time IBM will encourage its employees to enroll in the program via CITRIS’s distance learning program.

CITRIS is a powerful partnership of university, industry, and government, centered within the University of California, with main headquarters on the UC Berkeley campus. More than 200 faculty members from over 50 departments in engineering, science, social science, law, information management, health care, and other disciplines at four UC campuses (Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz) are collaborating with researchers at more than 60 supporting companies on ways to create and harness information technology in order to tackle some of society’s most pressing needs.


Related links:

IBM/Berkeley Services Day:
IBM SSME information: