ITP at 40 – USC Viterbi
Over the past four decades, USC Viterbi School of Engineering Information Technology Program (ITP) provided students with hands-on, hands-on experience with the latest programming languages and tools; insight into the growing impact of technology; and improved problem-solving skills. Thousands of Trojans have taken courses in computer programming, data science, and other subjects since the program’s inception. In doing so, they learned skills that better prepared them for an increasingly high-tech world.
Over the years, the ITP has grown in popularity and stature so much that the program now offers USC’s most popular minor applied analysis. It educates approximately 4,000 unique students each year, or nearly 20% of the undergraduate population at USC.
“We have amazing faculty and staff who put it all in motion,” said the ITP director Jeffrey Miller, BS CECS ’02; MS CS ’02; PhD CS ’07.
To celebrate the program’s 40th anniversary, ITP threw a party for itself on Tuesday, March 22 and Wednesday, March 23 at Alumni Park. Students gathered for lunch and conversation and to learn more about the ITP, which Miller said is stronger than ever. About 1,000 students from departments across the university came out to celebrate, many of whom wanted to declare ITP minors.
The celebration included games, prizes, food and socializing. Yannis Yortsos, Dean of USC Viterbi and Timothy PinkstonUSC Viterbi’s vice dean for faculty affairs, joined in the festivities, reinforcing the important work of the ITP for the entire university.
Ten years ago, ITP offered 35 courses; today it has 93. Similarly, a decade ago the program had five miners, while it now offers 15, including applied IT security, mobile app development, and blockchain. This fall, applications of artificial intelligence, and law and technology will become the 16th and 17th minors.
Eighty-six percent of ITP students come from outside USC Viterbi.
“ITP is made up entirely of teaching faculty, so we’re not driven by research dollars, but by faculty interest and what we see changing in the industry,” Miller said. “We’re also very hands-on, not theoretical, like most departments at the university.”
Like many current and former ITP students, Hannah Chong said she has benefited greatly from the program’s emphasis on hands-on, real-world learning. Graduated in Public Relations 2020 from the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, Chong earned a minor in computer programming and completed five ITP courses. She credits ITP for helping her land a full-time position at IBM as a technical support member of the sales team.
The job posting specified that IBM preferred someone with an engineering degree. However, Chong successfully argued that because of her background in computer programming, she understood the technology and could easily master it. “I don’t think I would have this job without ITP,” she said.
Likewise, Jennah Motani, a USC Marshall School of Business major in applied analytics, said she believed her ability to understand and leverage massive amounts of data would make her a much more attractive candidate for potential employers.
“Analysis is a skill you can apply to many [fields], and it’s a good skill to have under your belt, especially in business,” Motani said. “I think the ability to analyze data is key and that’s really where the future is going.”
Many share this belief.
ITP’s applied analysis became USC’s most popular minor just five years after its inception. Around 550 students are now minors there, with film coming second and corporate finance third.
Miller, the director of ITP, joined the university in 2013 after six years as a tenured professor of computer science at the University of Alaska at Anchorage. He took first place in the ITP in 2019.
Throughout, Miller said his overarching goal has been to excite and educate as many Trojans about the technology and its myriad applications and possibilities. “I came in and inherited an incredible program in ITP, and we kept improving it,” he said.
Posted on April 15, 2022
Last updated on April 15, 2022