May 12, 2020
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As student events across the country have been either canceled or postponed, the Association for Information Systems (AIS) Student Chapter Leadership Conference (SCLC) decided to go virtual, putting the skills that students have learned to proper use. Steven Scarlow, assistant professor in the Department of Management Information Systems (MIS) and the AIS faculty advisor, discusses the purpose of the competition and how it is more important than ever for students to prepare for their future careers. 

The AIS Student Chapter Competition allows students to utilize the skills that they have learned in the classroom while gaining a deeper understanding of information technologies. “SCLC provides AIS Chapter members with a chance to learn how information technologies transform the way individuals and organizations work,” says Scarlow. 

Over the course of two days in late March, students participated in four distinct challenges. Each focused on skills that students have learned in the classroom and how they can be applied in a real-world situation. For example, the Analytics challenge gave students the opportunity to hone an important skill when working in data analytics: visualization. 

“Visualization is a key component of data analytics, and the challenge allows students, in teams or as individuals, to create an original graphic that provides clear and meaningful insight into a problem,” says Scarlow. 

These challenges, the Walton College Blockchain Hackathon and the Software Innovation allow students to see how information technologies serve a greater purpose in helping the world’s problems. 

Kathleen Mecca, a senior MIS major, shares how the competition was a rewarding experience despite current circumstances. “Although the in-person conference was canceled, my team and I were able to present virtually,” says Mecca. “It was an honor to be able to take part in this competition with two of my other peers and it will be a great college memory to look back on as we advance in our professional careers.”

The Walton College Blockchain Hackathon Challenge provided students an opportunity to explore the possibilities of blockchain technology as they developed solutions for Heifer International, a global nonprofit out of Little Rock, Ark. The organization is focused on eradicating poverty and hunger through sustainable community development initiatives.

The Software Innovation Challenge was about discovering information systems solutions, innovations and initiatives that help make the world a better, safer place for organizations and society in general.

For Mecca, pursuing a career in Information Systems was driven by her passion for technology and helping others. “With the inevitable rise of technology in the future, it is important that there are professionals that can help companies and individuals navigate and optimize the great benefits that it can provide to them,” says Mecca. 

Information technology is an evolving industry that requires students to be able to adapt within a moment’s notice. The ability to optimize online applications such as Zoom, Google Suite and Slack during the competition exemplifies these student’s ability to rise to the occasion regardless of the circumstances.

AnalyticsAnalytics ChallengeAssociation for Information SystemsBlockchainCOVID-19Data VisualizationManagement Information SystemsSoftware InnovationStudent Chapter Leadership ConferenceStudents