Future-Proofing Your Career in IT

Northwestern Engineering's MSIT Program Director Randall Berry talks about how the program gives students the knowledge and training to prepare them for future technological innovations.

By Randall Berry

The world of information technology (IT) has experienced dramatic change over the course of my career and in the 24 years that Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) program has been in existence. 

Randall BerryYou can see this change in the evolution of wireless networks from 2G, that mainly supported voice, to the emerging 5G networks that support a wide range of different use cases, or you can see it in the changes in computing infrastructure from on-premise data centers to the cloud. The increase in computing power and communication capabilities over this time have enabled new paradigms such as the widespread adoption of machine learning that few considered practical 20 years ago.

Changes like the rise of cloud computing have changed how organizations think about IT infrastructures and the increased adoption of paradigms like machine learning have enabled IT to impact all different areas of a business. These innovations have also led to new challenges, such as cybersecurity issues that emerged with increased access to data.

Our students clearly need to understand the current technologies they will see in their jobs as they graduate, but in the Northwestern MSIT program, we also see the need to prepare them to quickly grasp new technology they will see emerge in the following years. 

While the pace of technical change is rapid, the underlying engineering principles behind these changes evolve much more slowly. In the MSIT program, we built 70% of our curriculum with an emphasis on communication systems and networks and computing systems. That way, we are able to provide students with an understanding of these timeless principles so they can use them to understand new technology that they will see in their current and future careers.

The remaining 30% of the MSIT curriculum is focused on key business and management principles, and we highlight key business fundamentals such as finance, marketing, and project management. This unique combination allows our students to future-proof their careers and gives them the training to help transform organizations with their knowledge and understanding of how IT strategies impact the overall business. 

Randall Berry is the director of Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) program.