IT Consulting Education Excellence
The Computer Information Systems (CIS) major at James Madison University has a fifteen-year history of providing quality IT consulting education to undergraduate computer information systems students.
The core component of our undergraduate IT consulting education is CIS434 IT Consulting, an elective that draws on alumni expertise and enhances our relationship with recruiters. IT Consulting topics are also interwoven throughout the required major/minor coursework; helping to produce a graduate that understand consulting issues. In addition, we have three sponsored consulting competitions; Deloitte Consulting Case Competition, DRC Consulting Challenge, and Booz Allen Hamilton Case Competition. These sponsored events allow students to engage in consulting activities, network with professional consultants, and enhance their problem solving skills.
Positive client engagement is vital to the success of IT consultants, as too is positive student engagement in student run clubs and activities. The JMU Student Chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professions (AITP) works hand-in-hand with the CIS major to provide professional development, networking opportunities, and organization skills.
Access to an extensive population of talented consultants effects the research direction of the CIS faculty at JMU. Currently, IT Consulting research projects are directed at studying the attributes of success consultants and identifying the benefits of consulting mentor/mentee relationships.
CIS434 IT Consulting was initiated in 1998 by a former student working at PricewaterhouseCoopers. The course content and approach was developed by a team of participating consulting firms. Learning objectives and many learning activities were developed collaboratively with CIS faculty to create a “best of both worlds” learning environment. The unique aspect of the educational approach is the active participation of consulting member firms during the semester-long consulting project. Each of the Member Firms serves as a mentor to a 3-student team as they respond to an RFP with a professionally prepared proposal. In addition, the member firms each teach one or more classes, bringing expertise into the classroom.
Supported by an endowment from PricewaterhouseCoopers, CIS434 IT Consulting allows the students to participate in conference calls, travel to member firm sites, prepare professional documents, and engage the “consulting world.”
To distinguish the outstanding contributions of the alumni and supporters of CIS434 IT Consulting, we identify “IT Consultants of the Week.” The College of Business, the CIS program, and the CIS434 IT Consulting class honors those that volunteer to mentor our IT Consulting students or to judge those students work. Each fall semester ten mentors or judges are honored.
Co-Curricular Student Activities:
Deloitte Consulting Case Competition provides an inside look into the world of consulting by simulating a short project experience over a 10-day period where each self-assigned project team acts as a Deloitte Consulting team responsible for assisting a Federal client. This competition is both dynamic and interactive and achieves a realistic representation of a “Day in the Life of a Deloitte Analyst.” Ten or more alumni that work as consultants for Deloitte serve as mentors to the student consulting teams, enhancing the professional networks of the student team members. Deloitte traditionally sends eight or more consultants to JMU to engage our students during the event.
Booz Allen Hamilton Case Competition allows the JMU participants to solve actually problems presented to BAH for both government and commercial clients. The consulting experience is captured in case study that allows the students to apply the skills and knowledge they have obtained during their undergraduate studies to see how they would approach a real-life dilemma. The case permits the students to review how they think and have fun. Case Competition winners are offered an internship with Booz Allen Hamilton for the following summer. Booz Allen traditionally sends five or more consultants to JMU to engage our students during the weeklong event.
DRC Consulting Challenge begins with a consulting simulation using video, Java code, and simulated websites created by the imaginative IT consultants at DRC. All participating teams are enrolled in a series of interactive activities that incorporate an amusing yearly theme that is both entertaining and experiential. The simulation allows the students to use their consulting skills, including creativity, analysis, problem solving, and solution development. DRC traditionally sends eight or more consultants to JMU to engage our students during the weekend event.