CIT students take problem-solving skills abroad

Written by Emma Price, Student Communications Specialist

Creating Technology Solutions for Multicultural Populations group photo in  Manchester, EnglandMiami University Regionals students can take advantage of a range of opportunities during their time on campus. One opportunity--the chance to study abroad--turns a dream for many students into a reality. 

That dream turned reality when 16 students participated in the Computer and Information Technology course, Creating Technology Solutions for Multicultural Populations which included a two-week trip to Manchester, London, this past January. This was especially important as it marked the second joint study abroad between the regional campus CIT department and Oxford’s CSE department.

The students, accompanied by professors Donna Evans and Kurt Johnson, worked with JustLife, a foundation that provides advice and guidance to homeless and vulnerably housed adults while attending classes at NTC, an affiliated college of the University of Manchester. The class was asked to create a needs-assessment survey that would be distributed to the homeless population. 

“When researching different survey tools, the one thing that we were looking for was usability,” said Aaron Cook, a junior CIT major. “Since the majority of people that were going to be using the survey were part of the homeless population, we wanted to have features that would be interactive, yet easy for them to use and understand.”

The class divided into three teams, all coming up with different strategies and using different survey programs. “We voted amongst ourselves to decide what team would be the best fit to lead the project, which gave us the opportunity to take part in a business decision similar to what we may face in the future,” said Cook.

Creating Technology Solutions for Multicultural Populations course meetingThe students decided to work with the survey program, JotForm. They split into five separate working groups specializing in infrastructure, testing, design, creation and documentation. This culminated in preparing multiple sample surveys for JustLife and explaining the special features the program had to offer, giving the organization a better understanding as the deployment of the surveys commenced. The goal of the survey system was to educate the homeless population on the services JustLife offers, while also learning how to improve their living conditions.

The trip wasn’t all work, however. “I had never traveled abroad,” shared Cook, who celebrated his birthday in England. “It was very cool to begin a new year of my life in such a unique and culture-rich city. That birthday was definitely one to remember”

The students explored different restaurants and saw the city of Manchester up close and personal, including a live play. They were able to interact with students at the local university, as well as the president of the college, who had the entire class over to her home for dessert one night. 

The students even ventured to Wales, where they experienced sightseeing at the Conwy Castle and explored Snowdonia National Park.

“What meant the most to me was building such great friendships with the other students on the trip in a matter of just two weeks,” said Cook. “The trip was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I would recommend studying abroad to all students.” 

This educational opportunity will be continuing with the next collaboration of CIT and CSE consisting of a 6 credit hour course in the summer of 2021, covering ethics and technology solutions in multicultural populations through the lens of the Holocaust, Cold War and current affairs in Germany.