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Riverwood AssociatesPart 2 of a 3 Part Series

This guest post was written by IT-oLogy partner, Riverwood Associates. To join the Lean Six Sigma workshop hosted by IT-oLogy and Riverwood Associates on December 5, 2014, click here.

In Part 1, you took a diagnostic test to assess your understanding of Lean Six Sigma. Your next question might be, “Why should I become a Certified Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt?

The Yellow Belt is the first step for those individuals new to Lean Six Sigma. The focus is on the fundamental principles and key tools to start driving results. The training is designed for adult learners: real-world examples, discovery-driven, highly interactive, with individual and team exercises (including readouts) to reinforce key concepts.

Here are the Top 5 reasons to becoming a Certified Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt:

Reason # 5: Learn practical skills to advance your career. Problem solving in business has never been more important. Organizations are seeking individuals who are critical thinkers, independent thinkers, and able to make disciplined, data-based decisions. By 2018, there will be 1.2 million US job openings in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, with a significant shortage of qualified applicants to fill them. Lean Six Sigma helps individuals improve their skills in problem solving, analytical thinking, and decision-making. The best part is that these skills are 100% portable and will remain with you forever. The key is to practice them.

Reason # 4: Have an immediate impact in your job. Employees who are able to apply Lean Six Sigma in their jobs can have a significant, immediate impact. Start with a small “pain point”, an obvious problem in your day-to-day routine. Maybe the problem is too much paper or too many forms that is causing waste and delays. Apply the principles and appropriate tools to drive results. Get some small wins under your belt. Tell your story to your peers and managers. Build your skills and confidence. Do not underestimate the power of one person to drive change.

Reason #3: Become a more valuable member of your organization. Building on Reason # 4, as your peers and upper management begin to see your results, you will start to become recognized. People love to hear success stories. It is empowering. Business loves to see results. Before you know it, your boss will start asking you to take on larger, more critical projects or problems. This helps you build a track record of performance in order to become promoted.

Reason # 4: Maximize your earnings potential. Businesses recognize individuals with Lean Six Sigma certification credentials. It is an industry standard. And as you continue taking on more challenging assignments and roles, you will be rewarded with higher earnings. Senior Managers and Executives are smart and pragmatic. They know that in the long run it is better to keep a high performer than risk losing them. Suffice it to say that monetary rewards will ensue.

Reason # 1: You owe it to yourself. Of all the reasons, this may be the most important. Learning is a life-long journey. Think of certification as an investment in yourself and your career. The Return on Investment will more than pay for itself.

In Part 3 of this series, we’ll describe our Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt program and what to expect.

Charlotte-trendsWith months of hard work by IT-oLogy, its partners, and speakers, Trends 2014 went off without a hitch last Thursday, November 6th. In-depth discussions into the Internet of Things, including both the benefits and downfalls, gave attendees a grasp of the direction in which the information technology and digital fields are going.

Thursday started off early for the IT-oLogy team and speakers, though not without time to tweet our excitement!


Trends attendees viewed a livestream around the nation, from Charlotte, NC, Dallas, TX, Greenville, SC, and Charleston, SC thanks to ConnectedNation. Our keynote speaker Al Velosa, Research Director at Gartner, kicked off the day by explaining the vast scope of data that can be collected through advanced professional data-mining machines, consumer products, drones, and more. Even some bar taps are harnessing the Internet of Things!


Denise Garth, an insurance industry leader with SMA, hared real world examples of how technology affects the insurance industry. Sensors in connected homes can  save homeowners from broken pipes, house fires, and other potentially disastrous home issues.


After hearing from Al and Denise, Erica Stanley of Acire Studios and Krissa Watry gave us examples of the Internet of Thing’s presence in the consumer market, with wearable gadgets, medical products, and even smart toys for children, with Krissa’s own company, Dynepic.


In the afternoon William Bontrager of Eagle Eye Analytics gave a different perspective of  how insurance industry professionals and companies determine business strategies depending on mass pools of big data, gathered by data-mining products.

With years of working in cybersecurity, both in the private sector and with the government, Chad Cravens of Open Source Systems went into detail about his experience in cyber warfare, his recommendations for cyber safety, and tips on how to find out what kind of data you are leaving behind.


Last but not least, Dr. Sue Levkoff of the University of South Carolina College of Social Work discussed the use of technology in the aging process. Because technology is changing so quickly, so is the way our population ages. Sue discussed USC’s advancements with technology for the elderly in addition to industry-wide advancements.


Thank you again to all of the speakers, attendees, partners, and sponsors that made Trends 2014 a success! If you’d like to see the presentations or slides, follow IT-oLogy on Facebook and Twitter to get updates on when they will be available.

Riverwood Associates

This guest post was written by IT-oLogy partner, Riverwood Associates. To join the Lean Six Sigma workshop hosted by IT-oLogy and Riverwood Associates on December 5, 2014, click here.

  1. What is Lean Six Sigma?
    a. A technique for reducing variation
    b. A methodology for eliminating waste and streamlining processes
    c. A system for shifting process mean
  2. Lean Six Sigma can be described as:
    a. A technique to develop business strategy
    b. A process improvement methodology that reduces defects and deviation
    c. A management style
  3. A Six Sigma process is how good?
    a. 6 defects per million opportunities
    b. 99.9% quality yield
    c. 99.9997% quality yield
  4. What is the primary focus of Lean Six Sigma?
    a. Enhancing customer satisfaction / profit by improving quality and process speed
    b. Profit improvement by improving quality
    c. Profit improvement by improving process speed
  5. Lean Six Sigma can be utilized in which industries:
    a. Manufacturing
    b. Service
    c. Healthcare
    d. Technology
    e. Government
    f. Not-for-Profit
    g. All of the above
  6. Lean and Six Sigma:
    a. Should be deployed in a linear fashion (first Lean, then Six Sigma)
    b. Are complimentary and can often be orchestrated in parallel.
    c. Must be applied in different areas of a business (Lean on the factory floor and Six Sigma in the office)
  7. What do Lean Six Sigma terms like Yellow Belt, Green Belt and Black Belt describe?
    a. A Six Sigma area of specialization by a consultant
    b. The management level that must be involved in a Six Sigma project
    c. Roles within a Lean Six Sigma deployment

Answers:

1. B: Lean focuses on value through the relentless elimination of waste and acceleration in the velocity of processes. Its origins can be traced to Henry Ford of Ford Motor Company and Taiichi Ohno of Toyota.

Value is defined in terms of what is important to the customer. If your customer is willing to pay for an activity you do, that can be considered value-add work. Waste includes activities the customer is not willing to pay for like defects, waiting, and excess processing. Increasing the velocity of processes is not about working faster, but speeding up the entire end-to-end process or lead time. Think of lead time as the time it takes to receive a book once you order it from Amazon or the time from entering a hospital ER to being treated.

2. B: Originated by Motorola in the 1980s, Six Sigma is a well-defined, customer-focused, process improvement methodology. Six Sigma focuses on reducing defects and deviation (or variation).

3. C: A Six Sigma process translates into 99.9997 percent quality or yield. Dial tone of traditional landline phones, for example, was designed to be available 99.9997 percent of the time. This translates into 3.4 defects per million opportunities.

4. A: Lean Six Sigma is not just about saving money. And it is not about just removing waste. When we combine Lean and Six Sigma, we get something powerful — a business improvement methodology that maximizes shareholder value by achieving the fastest rate of improvement in Cost, Quality, Delivery and Customer Satisfaction.

5. F: While Lean Six Sigma may have originated in manufacturing, the principles apply equally to other industries including Service, Healthcare, Government, and Not-for-Profit. Organizations who embrace it include American Cancer Society; AT&T; The Coca-Cola Company; Bank of America; City of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Merck; Starbucks; UPS; and Virginia Mason Hospital.

6. B: Lean and Six Sigma are complimentary and can frequently be implemented in parallel. Contrary to popular myth, it does not require a choice between one or the other. Nor must you implement one or the other methodology first.

7. C: The different color belts refer to the roles within a Lean Six Sigma deployment. The Yellow Belt is the first step for individuals and organizations new to Lean Six Sigma. As an introductory training, it concentrates on the fundamental principles and key tools to start driving improvement. Yellow Belts are skilled in problem solving, critical thinking and leading small projects. The Green Belt is the next step. It includes more in-depth training on tools and techniques. Green Belts frequently lead larger initiatives and support Black Belts. Black Belt certification requires a real commitment in terms of time and effort. It involves more training in advanced statistical tools, project management, and leadership. Black Belts typically must complete a project to be certified.

Now that you have better understanding of Lean Six Sigma, your next question might be, “Why should I enroll in the Yellow Belt Certification?” To find out, we’ll explore this topic in Part 2 in our weekly series by Riverwood Associates.

The following guest blog post was written by IT-oLogy Charlotte Executive Director, Kay Read.

Analysts Discuss Key Issues Facing the IT Industry During Gartner Symposium/ITxpo:

 “By 2015, 4.4 million IT jobs globally will be created to support big data, generating 1.9 million IT jobs in the United States,” said Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner and global head of Research. “In addition, every big data-related role in the U.S. will create employment for three people outside of IT, so over the next four years a total of 6 million jobs in the U.S. will be generated by the information economy.“

“But there is a challenge. There is not enough talent in the industry. Our public and private education systems are failing us. Therefore, only one-third of the IT jobs will be filled. Data experts will be a scarce, valuable commodity,” Mr. Sondergaard said. “IT leaders will need immediate focus on how their organization develops and attracts the skills required. These jobs will be needed to grow your business. These jobs are the future of the new information economy.”

First, the demand for data scientists is high and increasing. Second, the demand for this talent far outweighs the supply — we need to fill the gaps quickly.

To fill this need, IT-oLogy is developing a program for organizations in the Charlotte region.  The Institute for New Critical Skills for Big Data/Analytics and IT program members and partners will share in the costs of procuring, and/or developing and delivering a series of short courses that will fill the skill gaps of existing employees.  The vision statement for the Institute is to “enable Charlotte to become a hub of Big Data Powering Big Business”.

The program expects to be operational by mid-2015 and we are looking for volunteers to assist with the development of the program and assist with the funding of critical start-up activities.  The program is led by IT-oLogy Executive Council members Olin Broadway, Syntelli, and Joe Deney, Peak 10.

For more information, contact Kay Read, kay.read@it-ology.org

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The following article was written by IT-oLogy Charlotte Executive Director, Lawrence Ford.

IT-oLogy Dallas recently partnered with IBM at its Innovation Center during a four-day summer tech camp called GIGAWOT, which stands for Girls Inspired Greatly About the World of Technology. Led by retired IBMer Jo Lynn Golden, the annual GIGAWOT camp gathers 50 middle school girls from local schools to learn about the latest in technology and how they can pursue technology careers.

GIGAWOT keeps science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics as a focal point for students through technology demonstrations, educational games, hands on projects, and interaction with top IBM engineers. One of the hallmarks of IBM, a founding partner of IT-oLogy, is its robust volunteer program, encouraging staff to engage with K-12 and college students at various technology events around the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

One popular technology emerging today is 3D printing, and IT-oLogy Dallas brought several 3D printers to the GIGAWOT camp, demonstrating current and future applications for consumers, researchers, and manufacturers, such as home construction, product development, novelty chocolates, and event medical research.

IT-oLogy Dallas has worked with IBM Dallas on several K-12 tech events, including the popular Engineering Week held every February around the globe. Other major partners in DFW—CA Technologies, Companion Data Services, University of Texas at Dallas, and Crowley ISD—have opened their facilities for similar events throughout the year.

The work of IT-oLogy Dallas is part of the national initiative of IT-oLogy, headquartered in Columbia, SC, and founded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC, University of South Carolina, and IBM in 2009.

IT-oLogy_Registered_LogoAlice McCrory and Lonnie Emard attended the 2014 STARS Celebration and what an event it was! Over 40 universities, 200+ students, and 40+ faculty members attended the celebration held in Washington DC, August 14-16. 

As an introduction, what is STARS?  From www.starscomputingcorp.org: “STARS Computing Corps is a national community of regional partnerships with a mission to grow a diverse 21st century technology workforce.  The Corps is a framework for integrating engagement into computing departments for recruitment and graduation of undergraduate and graduate students.

Utilizing the innovative STARS Leadership Corps program, a curricular or co-curricular service-learning program for college students, Corps students collaborate with regional K-12 schools, industry, and community partners to inform, engage, and prepare upcoming students for entry and success in college computing programs. Through student-led regional engagement that includes peer mentoring, team projects, and research experiences, STARS Computing Corps students are emerging as the future innovators of tomorrow”.

IT-oLogy is an industry partner to STARS and is a key player in the interface between STARS and industry.  This Academic/Industry interface is the primary initiative for Teach IT and STARS is a mechanism to communicate to the over 40 universities nationally that have STARS programs.  Through the STARS mentoring programs we also have a direct connection between STARS and Promote IT.

The most exciting part of the celebration was the interaction with these very bright IT majors from across the nation.  The excitement they have for the profession is electric which was evidenced in the creative poster contest that was held the second night of the event.  The winners were as follows:

First place winners:

Service & Engagement:  Michael Helfrich and Russ Hill (FSU) – “Recruiting on Campus (the untapped market)”

Research & Internships:  Charles Scott (Hampton) –“ Adopting Secure Software Development Life Cycle in the Capstone Project”

Second Place winners

Service & Engagement:  Mary Zorn and Taylor Whitman (ULL) –“ App Inventor Workshop”

Research & Internships:  Trevor Brennan and Andrew Hicks (NCSU) – “Undergraduate Research with Bots”

Attendance to this event was very beneficial for Alice as she had only been on the job as Director of Teach IT for 3 days before she went!  What a way to get acclimated, Alice!

Next years event will be the 10th anniversary and will be held in Charlotte, NC in August.  IT-oLogy is on the 2015 committee and will be hosting the Career Fair at the 2015 STARS Celebration.  Stay tuned for more!

If you are interested in participating in the 2015 STARS Celebration Career Fair, please contact Alice at alice.mccrory@it-ology.org.

code.orgIn August, IT-oLogy’s own Alicia Thibaudet, Jon Bartschi and Lawrence Ford were invited by Code.org, with about 100 others, to attend an action packed professional development weekend in Las Vegas. The new Code.org K-5 Affiliate program, which is focused on coding curriculum for elementary schools, has developed 3 bands of courses that each focus on teaching coding concepts appropriate for varying skill levels.  The goal of this professional development workshop was to prepare over 100 affiliates across the nation to offer curriculum and professional development to K-5 teachers in the US.  Alicia and Jon will be offering workshops in South Carolina starting this fall and Lawrence will be offering workshops in Dallas soon.

IT-oLogy_Registered_LogoSo why is Code.org doing this? According to Hadi Partovi, founder of Code.org, “Every 21st-century student should have the opportunity to learn computer science. The basics help nurture creativity and problem-solving skills, and prepare students for any future career. Software and computers are everywhere, but still less than one in ten schools teaches computer science.” To make computer science more accessible, we are offering free, high-quality professional development workshops for K-5 educators and content-area teachers (librarians, tech-ed specialists,etc.) interested in teaching the Code.org elementary school computer science curriculum. The workshop will cover content for all three courses and teachers will receive the supplies they need to teach the course at no cost. These workshops will be led by experienced Code.org K-5 Affiliates in over 60 cities across the United States. The elementary school curriculum allows even the youngest students to explore the limitless world of computing. The courses blend online, self-guided and self-paced tutorials with “unplugged” activities that require no computer at all. Each level consists of about 20 lessons that may be implemented as one unit or over the course of a semester. Even kindergarten-aged pre-readers can participate.South Carolina starting this fall and Lawrence will be offering workshops in Dallas soon.

The courses are flexible so educators can tailor them to their class based on their students’ developmental level and prior experience. The lessons align to CSTA Computer Science and ISTE standards, and reinforce concepts and skills taught in other subject areas by integrating national Math, English Language Arts, and Science standards. The skills from each course are listed below.

Course 1:
Early readers (ages 4-6)

  • Sequences
  • Loops and events
  • Meaningful collaboration with others
  • Problem solving and perseverance techniques
  • Internet safety

Course 2:
Beginners, readers (ages 6+)

  • Conditionals
  • Algorithms
  • Binary code
  • Debugging
  • Societal impacts of computing

Course 3:
Prereq. Course 2 (ages 6+)

  • Problem decomposition
  • Functions
  • Nested loops and conditionals
  • Digital citizenship
  • Internet transmission methods

We will be announcing dates for workshops sometime in the next month.  For any questions, contact Alicia Thibaudet at alicia.thibaudet@it-ology.org.

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The following post was written by IT-oLogy Charlotte Executive Director, Kay Read.

On Saturday, September 13th, Cyber Saturday offered the student track at the annual Blend Conference, a national user experience, design, front and back-end development conference. Over 80 Grade 6-12 students joined more than 400 IT professionals at the Sheraton Hotel in Uptown Charlotte for this special edition of Cyber Saturday. Cyber Saturday is a signature IT-oLogy event, sponsored by Time Warner Cable. Saturday’s event aimed to engage the up-and-coming generation in STEM careers through the use of hands-on exercises and real life experiences shared by technology leaders.

For the middle school attendees, the day started with an entertaining keynote delivered by nationally renowned IT authority, Scott Hanselman. Hanselman spoke of his journey to discovering a passion for IT, including the incredible things he’s built through the use of technology.

“The ‘maker’ focus is the seed to plant in these young minds,” stated IT-oLogy Executive Director, Kay Read.

For the high school session, John Fread, COO of Logical Advantage, facilitated a panel of CPCC, JC Smith University, and UNC Charlotte college students who spoke to the students about pursuing a career in technology. The college students explained what sparked their interest in technology and discussed different ways for them to pursue this interest while still in high school. The college students shared a similar trait in that they always had a desire to understand how things work and a joy for making new things.

“Our panel encouraged the high school kids to follow their passion and to not worry about making mistakes. They also expressed the importance of getting involved in technology groups, such as Hackathons, where they can learn and meet other students that share their same interest,” said Fread.

Both middle and high school students were treated to a workshop led by IoT enthusiast and CTO of Logical Advantage, Dan Thyer. Supported by an army of volunteers, students followed Thyer’s lead as they soldered their own PoV Badges, comprised of a circuit board and LED lights.

One of the greatest successes of the event was the diversity of the students who participated. Many volunteers noted a strong attendance of female and minority students. This further reinforced the goal of organizations like IT-oLogy to raise awareness and bolster encouragement for Charlotte’s IT careers.

To learn more about IT-oLogy and their monthly Cyber Saturday events, visit IT-oLogy.org, or follow on Twitter at @IT_ology.

Aspirations AwardThe following post was written by IT-oLogy Charlotte Executive Director, Kay Read.

Applications are now open for the National Center for Women and IT (NCWIT) annual Award for Aspirations in Computing. NCWIT offers both a national and local award competition to generate support and visibility for young women’s participation in computing around the country. Young women in high school are honored for their computing-related achievements and interests.

One of the annual programs of IT-oLogy WISE (Women and IT Science & Engineering) is hosting the local North Carolina NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing celebration. WISE taps into the regional network of businesses, educational institutions, non-profit organizations and startups to build a community of support for young women interested in computing.

The Aspirations award recipient selection is based on computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education. Recipients receive two engraved awards: one for her, and one for her school’s trophy case, opportunities for scholarships, internships, research experiences, and other educational and employment opportunities provided by NCWIT member organizations.

To apply, girls must register online https://www.aspirations.org/user/register/5. Registration ends November 2, 2014. The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing is open to all high school girls residing in the US and you may re-apply each year. You may only receive the National award once.

Award recipients are notified in mid December and award events take place around the country January through May. WISE plans the North Carolina celebration in April 2015.

Todd LewisAt IT-oLogy Columbia I’m proud to say we recognize the important role students will play in the future of computing and technology, and by extension, the overall economy. After all, today’s middle school, high school or college student is tomorrow’s professional, and it will happen before we know it.

Preparing these students for a possible career in IT, by either making content we develop and/or deliver available or by educating them about the profession of IT, is central to what we do and is of utmost importance.

In that spirit, I’d like to bring to your attention just a few of the programs we’ll continue, and in some cases launch, this fall. If you have children, or are perhaps a student yourself, I encourage you to take advantage of these tremendous opportunities. As many have heard me say in the past, I honestly wish they were available when I was in school.

Cyber Saturday LogoCyber Saturday

One of our signature programs, we continue to make introductory level instruction available on the third Saturday of every month through December. Featuring a different topic/technology each time it’s offered, expert instructors from throughout the Midlands introduce middle and high school students to applicable technologies and provide take-away resources that enable the education process to continue long after sessions end. *Please note these sessions fill up fast, so early registration is encouraged.

The fall schedule:

  • Saturday, September 20. Middle school from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, High school from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.
  • Saturday, October 18. Same schedule as September.
  • Saturday, November 15. Same schedule.
  • Saturday, December 13 (note, this is the second Saturday). Same schedule.

For more information or to register go to (website here) or contact me directly at todd.lewis@it-ology.org.

Black Data Processing Associates organization (BDPA) – Student Chapter

This award-winning, nationally recognized organization meets on Saturdays at IT-oLogy and is open to any student interested in pursuing a career in programming, analysis, computer engineering, project management/management, entrepreneurship, and most other jobs in the technology field. In short, it’s a great way to improve education levels in an area you might already know, or learn more about something new. The group is led by Jamesetta James, a technologist at SCANA and a long-time champion of student technology education, who is also a tremendous instructor and mentor. More information can be found at http://www.bdpa.org/group/GC. Jamesetta can be contacted directly via email at JJames@scana.com.

Aspirations AwardAspirations – An effort to recognize and encourage females in technology

As a national partner of NCWIT (National Center for Women in IT), we annually recognize high school females that have shown an interest in technology and/or are personally involved in a notable project or just learning more in school. If you know of someone worthy of recognition, or you yourself are that person, the nomination process will be open from September 15 through November 2 with award recipients being notified mid-December and officially recognized at a ceremony in early 2015 at IT-oLogy. In 2013/2014 we recognized 10 award winners from throughout South Carolina. In 2014/2015 we not only hope that number is far greater overall, but that we also have a large number of Columbia recipients. More information about Aspirations can be found at http://www.aspirations.org/aspirations-computing. More information about last year’s award winners recognized at IT-oLogy can be found at http://www.it-ology.org/en/News/Aspirations.aspx. Additional information is available by contacting Alicia Thibaudet at Alicia.thibaudet@it-ology.org.

IT-oLogy High School Ambassador program

We are launching the High School Ambassador program this fall to provide more opportunities for high school students to get involved in IT related programming at IT-oLogy (volunteering, serving as guest instructors, working with us to make more curriculum available, etc.) and to help spread the word on campus about the importance of IT education. Kevin Rabinovich of AC Flora High School, a long time volunteer at IT-oLogy and BDPA leader, is leading this effort and needs lots of help from fellow students at local middle and high schools. Serving along with Kevin will get you perks here at IT-oLogy and will look great on your resume. To learn more about the program please contact Alicia Thibaudet at Alicia.thibaudet@it-ology.org or Kevin Rabinovich directly at kevinrabinovich@gmail.com.

coursepower Coursepower – Ambassadors needed

Students, teachers and parents in Columbia or the surrounding area need to be aware of the 18-hour Applied Computing minor now available at four (4) local colleges – Columbia College, USC, Benedict, and Midlands Tech. In short, this minor will enable students to learn the fundamentals of technology/computing while majoring in another field (that field can be non-technology related or can even be technology focused, like software programming). In today’s economy, having that foundational technology underpinning is extremely important, and some would say vital. So what can students do about it while in high school or middle school? They can start by taking as many currently-available technology workshops and classes as possible to become educated about the technology field (many are available at local schools and at IT-oLogy). Not only will this begin to establish the much-needed technology foundation and understanding, but it will also better enable students to understand the connection between technology and a possible chosen major. Also, students can become a Coursepower Ambassador, which will enable them to get one-on-one instruction from us at IT-ology, then help educate others and spread the word about why IT is important and a great career option. Ambassadors are very much needed and will play a large role as we expand the program. More information about the Applied Computing minor can be found at www.coursepower.org. The points of contact at each of the four colleges currently offering the minor can be found at http://www.coursepower.org/academic-track (scroll half way down the page). To contact IT-oLogy directly about the 18-hour Applied Computing minor, please email me directly at todd.lewis@it-ology.org.