Science and Technology

Intelligence analysis seniors take a crack at improving U.S. banking


by Eric Gorton

 

Devising strategies to increase the competitiveness of U.S. banks is kind of a big task, and four seniors in JMU's intelligence analysis program are getting a taste of just how complex that task is as they work on their capstone project.

The team of Christine Choi, Karlyn Galante, Garrett Hughes and Mia Piccininni is one of 20 groups of IA seniors working on capstone projects that they will present Friday, April 17 during the annual integrated science and technology senior capstone event.

The capstone exercise gives the students "as close to a real-world experience as we can give them while still staying in the classroom," said Dr. Stephen Marrin, an associate professor of integrated science and technology who teaches one of two sections of the class.

Choi said her group is looking at trends "that we think will continue into the future and we'll try to create some scenarios as to some ways banks can improve their services or address issues that they may be facing, to improve their overall business plan."

In the fall, the students took IA440 and came up with proposals for their projects. This semester they are taking IA450 and implementing those plans.

Choi, Galante, Hughes and Piccininni chose their topic from a list of potential projects submitted by a number of professionals and organizations working in the IA field. Marrin, who has worked as an analyst for the CIA and the Government Accountability Office and has been teaching intelligence studies for nearly 10 years, asked a number of his contacts to submit the proposals, which were made available to students in both Marrin's class and a class taught by Dr. Jeff Tang.

The banking proposal was one of 10 topics suggested by Toffler Associates, a privately held executive advisory and strategy consultancy based in Reston.

"What's unique about having a sponsored topic is that Toffler is able to reach out to their contacts and set us up" with banking industry experts, Piccininni said.

Other teams are working on projects suggested by Dr. Barry A. Zulauf, a faculty member at the National Intelligence University; and by a government agency.

Choi said her group is looking at trends "that we think will continue into the future and we'll try to create some scenarios as to some ways banks can improve their services or address issues that they may be facing, to improve their overall business plan."

Improving security is part of the focus, but so are strategies involving political, social, economic and technological trends and issues. Narrowing the scope of the project was one of the challenges that Toffler employees helped with. "We had so many ideas and we finally decided we're going to focus on this," Galante said.

The students also are working with Dr. Mike Deaton, a professor of integrated science and technology who is the methodology adviser, and Dr. Kurt Schick, director of the Learning Resource Centers, who is providing professional writing training.

"There are a lot of pieces in this," Marrin said. "If you think of the IA440 and IA450 classes together, you have knowledge and you have project/proposal development and then you have writing and project implementation and delivery. So educationally speaking, it's quite ambitious."

The ISAT senior capstone event provides a public forum for seniors to showcase the knowledge, skills and hands-on experience they have learned during their time in ISAT. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the ISAT/CS and HHS buildings.

Published April 15, 2015

Published: Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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