Bauer Students Learn Through Service

Published on March 28, 2014

MIS 4374 Course Gives Bauer Students Opportunity
To Provide Business Solutions to Non-Profits

For students in a management information systems course at the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston, learning is about service.

The college’s MIS 4374 class allows seniors studying information systems project management the chance to put those skills into action by working with non-profits to provide solutions to IS challenges.

Offered by Bauer’s Department of Decision and Information Sciences, the course connects student teams over the semester with local non-profits, whose missions range from youth mentorship to fighting hunger. Once teams have selected a client, they take on the real-world task of meeting with the organization, assessing their respective IS challenges and providing and implementing a solution.

Target Hunger

One team chose to work with Target Hunger, a non-profit that works to alleviate hunger in Houston’s inner-city neighborhoods and its root causes by providing nourishment through food services and enrichment through educational programs.

“We were drawn in by the organization’s vision statement,” leader Biania Vasquez said. “They are committed to providing aid in poverty-stricken areas through self-esteem classes as well as food pantries and community gardens.”

Working with Target Hunger allowed students to interact with a client in the same way that is expected in a professional setting, from meeting with clients to documentation, as well as problem solving at each stage of a project, team member Lyla Naboulsi explained.

“From this experience, I’m gaining what teamwork is all about, how teamwork and communication are very important skills to get the job done and what it really takes to satisfy the client’s needs and wants,” she said.

Crossroads

Team members (from left) Syed Ali, Wilbur Rodriguez, Adriel Negrete and An Vo, worked with Crossroads, a program that fosters positive mentoring relationships between youth and volunteers in the Houston area, by helping them create a website that met the organizations needs.

Team members (from left) Syed Ali, Wilbur Rodriguez, Adriel Negrete and An Vo, worked with Crossroads, a program that fosters positive mentoring relationships between youth and volunteers in the Houston area, by helping them create a website that met the organization’s needs.

It’s up to the team to research the project and speak with the organization to find out what exactly the project is, student Adriel Negrete said. His team is working with Crossroads, a program that fosters positive mentoring relationships between youth and volunteers in the Houston area.

Although Crossroads has an existing website, it wasn’t meeting the needs of the organization because it was difficult to edit without an extensive background in coding and programming, Negrete said.

“We made our choice to help Crossroads by providing them with a new website,” he added. “We are creating a new one that can be easily edited and content can be uploaded with minimal technical knowledge.”

The students on the Target Hunger team tackled a similar issue. The organization had a functioning website, but managing its online presence needed to be streamlined and improved.

“Our team is improving the current website that Target Hunger currently has in place,” Vasquez said. “Some of those conflicts are things like being able to update upcoming events in a more efficient manner, taking out old and outdated events on the website, and replacing the theme of the website. Our team is very excited to help resolve these issues and cannot wait for the end result.”

At the end of the spring semester, the teams will present their projects to the non-profits. The students will be able to see their work in action when the changes are made to the organizations’ websites.

Urban Outreach Inc.

Partnering with Urban Outreach Inc., an organization that is working to transform the Houston community through a range of targeted programming, Eymi Watson-Evans, Luyao Ding, Jessica Willis and Austin McQueen received real-world experience thanks to the MIS 4374 course.

Partnering with Urban Outreach Inc., an organization that is working to transform the Houston community through a range of targeted programming, (from left) Eymi Watson-Evans, Luyao Ding, Jessica Willis and Austin McQueen received real-world experience thanks to the MIS 4374 course.

“It’s a great experience to actually work on a project for a real organization,” said student Jessica Willis, whose group is partnering with Urban Outreach Inc., a non-profit that offers a range of programming targeting at-risk children, the chronically unemployed or underemployed, and low-income apartment residents.

“If a student is even considering the possibility of working in project management, this course is a must,” Willis added. “It’s not a ‘textbook’ course. It’s hands-on and real-world.”

By Ann Lynd