2023-24 Management Information Systems Newsletter

Photo of Penn State Behrend Sign with 2023-24 MIS Newsletter Text

In This Issue:

What's New with the MIS Major?

Kyle Chalupczynski

Kyle Chalupczynski, Lecturer in MIS

Credit: Penn State Behrend

The MIS department is actively focusing on incorporating Large Language Models (LLMs) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) into its curriculum. This strategic effort is intended to ensure students are prepared for future job markets by understanding and using these technologies. Faculty are not just adapting to AI; they're fully engaging with it, exploring its impact on professions and education. They're also testing new workflows and collaborative methods to better integrate AI into teaching and research.

By embedding AI throughout various courses, the department is focused on equipping students with the skills necessary for the digital age. This effort not only underscores a commitment to innovation but also aligns with the needs of the business and information technology sectors. As companies continue to invest heavily in AI, this proactive approach ensures its students are ready to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities that this investment in AI technology presents.

Professor Kyle Chalupczynski, M.B.A, Lecturer in Management Information Systems

Faculty Spotlight

Photo of Dr. Matthew Swinarski

Dr. Matthew Swinarski, Associate Professor of MIS

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Dr. Matthew Swinarski is an associate professor of MIS. He holds a doctorate in MIS and a master’s degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering. He teaches classes on business intelligence, business process management, spreadsheet engineering, ERP systems, and databases.

What’s the biggest misconception about MIS professors?

One of the biggest misconceptions about professors in general is that we want some students to fail and we intentionally set up difficult assignments and rigorous grading systems to make that happen. This perception couldn’t be further from the truth. For example, in my MIS 445 Business Intelligence class, where I refer to my assignments as “challenges,” these mini case studies are designed to provide students with real-world problem-solving experience, better preparing them for their future careers. Rigorous grading is not intended to bring down students but rather to push students to achieve their best and to demonstrate to future employers what they are capable of accomplishing. Like most faculty at Behrend, I want students to excel in their studies. When students perform well, it not only reflects positively on their grades but also reduces the grading workload for faculty. That’s why students need to ask questions in class, attend office hours, and seek additional tutoring if they are encountering difficulties.

Alumni Spotlight

Joseph Lastowski, ’22 MIS

Photo of Joseph Lastowski, ’22 MIS

Joseph Lastowski, 2022 MIS Graduate

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Lastowski is a systems analyst in UPMC’s Information Technology Rotational Program. As a part of a rotational program, he will move to a different team within UPMC's IT department every six months for the next two years.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

The most interesting part of my job is having the opportunity to work on four different teams before choosing my final placement within UPMC’s IT department. I highly recommend a rotational program to any recently graduated MIS students who are not entirely sure what career path they want to pursue.

What advice do you have for current students?

My advice to current students considering a similar career path is to keep an open mind early in your career. The best time to take risks and learn what you really want out of a job is in the years immediately following graduation.

Are there any projects or accomplishments in your career that you are particularly proud of?

A project that I am proud of was taking the lead on the rollout of a real-time locating system (RTLS) environmental monitoring system that was deployed at a new hospital in Pittsburgh. It is very rewarding to see my work implemented at the hospital and hear how useful it has been for hospital staff.

Student Spotlight

Ali Kodratallah Ostowar ’25

Photo of Ali Ostowar, MIS Student

Ali Ostowar, MIS Student

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Ali is an MIS major with a minor in Computer Science. He is the president and founder of the Mixed Strengths Club and vice president of the French and German clubs. He also hopes to conduct cognitive science research this summer.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received at Behrend?

Embrace the transformative power of AI; it’s not just a tool, but a gateway to endless possibilities. Our approach defines its value, so learn how to use it now and stay ahead in a world where AI is not just the future, but the present.

If you had one do-over at Behrend, what would it be?

If I could go back, I'd dive into more varied classes from day one at Behrend. There's so much more to discover than just classes specific to your major; consider interesting electives and unexpected passions. I discovered my true passion by being more open. I only wish I had done so sooner.

What was your biggest takeaway from your internship?

Over the summer I had an internship through the Black School of Business Innovation Through Collaboration program. The experience taught me that learning how to work with AI not only facilitates complex or time-consuming tasks but also enables users to achieve unprecedented results even in ambiguous situations. Equally crucial, though, is our human touch, which steers AI away from errors and toward brilliance. This blend of human insight and AI innovation is not just the future—it’s now.

Management Information Systems Club Update

The MIS Club creates opportunities for students to broaden their knowledge in the field of MIS, including Educational Enhancement, IT platforms and capabilities, real-world applications, and networking with current MIS professionals in the Erie area.

This semester, the MIS Club innovated beyond the usual speaker series by organizing a ChatBot competition, where participants have the chance to win Amazon gift cards. The challenge for students is to harness the bot-building functionalities of ChatGPT to create their own “Custom GPT.” This competition is just the beginning. The club is eager to introduce more challenges and contests to enhance student involvement, and to provide a platform for students to showcase their skills, learn, and have fun. This initiative reflects the club’s commitment to fostering a community of tech enthusiasts, encouraging creativity, innovation, and engagement among members.

Celebrating Behrend's 75th Anniversary

Clipart of Microsoft Windows Old Logo

We are wrapping up a celebration of Behrend's 75th anniversary! The MIS program was established as a major in 1985. The same year, Microsoft released Windows 1.0, the first domain name was registered, and Steve Jobs resigned as chairman of Apple Computer. Microsoft ended its support for Windows 1.0 on December 31, 2001, making it the longest supported version of Windows. Technology, and the MIS major, has come a long way since then!