ATLANTA – Mercer University’s College of Professional Advancement will host its third annual Informatics Day Career Pathways event via Zoom on Feb. 24, 6-8 p.m., to engage students with professionals in the field and to promote the College’s technology-related programs.
Informatics focuses on computer systems from a user-centered perspective, and students study the structure, behavior and interactions of natural and artificial systems within the realms of hardware, software and data collection, with an emphasis on human interfaces rather than machine-focused computer science.
The event, originally established as Mercer Informatics Day in 2017 by Dr. Feng Lui, program coordinator and professor of informatics, is organized this year by Dr. Sabrina Walthall, associate professor of science.
This year’s program will involve a panel discussion that begins with professionals from cybersecurity, mathematics, health informatics, bioinformatics and big data speaking about their current jobs, what path they followed to their careers – or how the careers found them – and what they studied to get there.
Panelists include Dr. Emily Darraj, Charles Emeagwai, Dr. Maxine Harlemon, Tamara Nall and Joshua Walker. Four of the panelists represent industry and one represents research and academia. Dr. Darraj and Dr. Harlemon are members of the College’s corps of adjunct faculty who bring current industry and research experience from areas such as bioinformatics, cybersecurity, human-computer design and project management.
The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Walthall and Dr. Awatef Ben Ramadan, assistant professor of health informatics.
Organizers hope that individuals who attend this event explore the possibilities of what an informatics degree can offer within one’s future career path and the broad scope of jobs or sectors to which they can apply their skills.
“Imagine how a person with an expanse of work and life experiences, studying technology, can weave their understanding of real-world issues into their learning so that they can directly apply technology to address those issues, to improve, to resolve them,” said Dr. Colleen Stapleton, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics, Science and Informatics in the College of Professional Advancement. “It’s about how do you go out into the world and apply what you know. Our graduates are working in areas of health, public administration, community and social services, telecommunication, commercial and government consulting, hospitality, education, and security and have enrolled graduate programs such as computer science, information technology, and health administration.”
Dr. Stapleton also emphasizes the importance of flexibility and fluidity within the career field, as well, due to the fact that the average student within the program is also working and caring for family at home.
“Our speakers are going to talk about how they got to where they are today, and it’s definitely not a straight path,” Dr. Stapleton said. “I want my students to understand that you can wander around for a bit and do things you like to get where you want to go.”
Departmental faculty believe that individuals should be involved in informatics for various reasons, perhaps most notably the involvement in shaping technology for good.
“I don’t think right now we are using technology in the best way to help our communities, be healthier, more connected and prosperous,” she said. “I think that people should get into informatics because it’s a way to learn how to grab all of this technology and use it to make life better for those you work with, your community and yourself.”
The College of Professional Advancement is dedicated to providing resources for success in this field and offering support for the success of its students.
“Mercer hires great faculty members who are diverse in their skills and knowledge, including software development, computer science, information systems, health informatics, and statistics, who offer students project-based courses, service-learning activities, and community-based research,” Dr. Stapleton said. “The department celebrates the academic achievement of our students through the UPE Honor Society supported by the international professional organizations Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Our department hosts events like this one to help students learn more in-depth information from professionals active in the field.”
The College of Professional Advancement offers undergraduate programs in health informatics, information technology and informatics, and software application development and human-computer interaction, as well as a graduate program in health informatics.
About the College of Professional Advancement
Mercer University’s College of Professional Advancement is committed to serving post-traditional learners. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary experiences that integrate theory and practice. In addition to providing general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer, the College of Professional Advancement offers degree programs in areas including technology, public safety, public and human services, leadership and administration, health care and liberal arts. Programs are offered on Mercer’s campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as Regional Academic Centers in Douglas County and Henry County, and online. To learn more, visit professionaladvancement.mercer.edu.