IT Student Chapter and Adviser Take Top Honors
Dec. 14, 2010
The Association of Information Technology Professionals, a worldwide society of IT experts, this year honored the UT Dallas student chapter as best in the six-state Region 3.
Dr. Mark Thouin, faculty adviser for the School of Management-based chapter, said judges were impressed that the organization increased student membership 194 percent last year — from 31 to 91 members. The chapter also hosted a series of notable outside speakers and offered other professional and social events to its undergraduate- and graduate-student members.
Dr. Mark Thouin
Thouin, SOM’s director of Management Information Systems program, also received an honor: He was named AITP Region 3 Star Performer of 2010. Officers for the region, which covers Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, recognized his involvement in growing the student chapter and his work in organizing a student conference last year that drew 350 university students to UT Dallas for information technology seminars and competitions.
Among the reasons that students join AITP is the chance to “learn how to network,” Thouin said. “It’s difficult to teach in the classroom,” he said. He pointed out the connections work both ways: “Outside speakers like to come [to AITP chapter events] because it’s good networking for them.”
Management information systems graduates typically have no trouble landing a job — even in these shaky economic times — and companies are eager to line up job candidates before they graduate, Thouin said.
Varsha Suman, the incoming UT Dallas AITP president, is an MBA student with big plans for the chapter this spring. “I am expanding my team and recruiting a few new officers to market AITP,” she said. “We already started by recruiting a new position, director of social media. The person is responsible [for maximizing the potential of] the Facebook AITP UTD and LinkedIn AITP groups.”
Suman also is working on expanding tutoring services for AITP students and possibly opening membership to those in other schools on campus — such as computer science and engineering — who also would be interested in topics covered at AITP meetings.
Both UT Dallas awards were presented this fall at the AITP Region 3 conference at the University of Houston.
Thouin joined the School of Management faculty in 2008 after completing his doctorate at Texas Tech University. “While working on my PhD, I was introduced to some of the challenges facing the healthcare industry and decided to focus on healthcare IT for my dissertation,” he said. Previously, he spent about 13 years as an IT consultant supporting a variety of organizations and industries, including the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, Sara Lee Knit Products, Krispy Kreme and several others, in a variety of technical and managerial roles.