As a part of the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) featured blogs, we would like to introduce to you some of our professors and instructors in the Convergence College Network (CCN) community. The CCN is a select cohort of community colleges and universities from across the country that connects IT educators with a wealth of resources to enhance their programs. In this week’s Q&A blog, we’re featuring David Keathly, Principal Lecturer for Computer Science and Engineering at the University of North Texas (UNT). David will share his journey as an IT professor at UNT, which includes the pros and cons of teaching IT.
What do you teach?
I teach courses in Computer Science, Computer engineering and Information Technology including Programming Fundamentals I and II; IT Capstone I and II; Systems Architecture, analysis and design; Computational Life Science; Computer Science Principles; and Systems Programming.
How long have you been a teacher, and what sparked your interest in teaching?
I have been at University North Texas for 14 years. Prior to UNT, I worked in industry for about 20 years, but as an adjunct on occasions at Collin College, UT Dallas, Western International University (online), University of Phoenix (online) and DeVry Institute of Technology. I have always been interested in teaching from the time I attended college. Adjunction helped me to refine my interests and skills, and I eventually decided I wanted to pursue teaching full-time.
What is the secret to successfully teaching IT to students?
I think the first secret is enthusiasm. If you are not “into” the subjects you teach your students will pick up on that and also have low interest. Second is making it interesting and relevant. One of the benefits of having a number of years in the military and commercial sectors is having lots of examples and stories to tell. This helps students to relate the course topics to the real world, and it establishes your credibility as an instructor beyond just “book knowledge.”
What’s the biggest challenge of teaching IT?
Keeping up with the changes in technology.
Have you always been a teacher? If you had a job in the “real world” prior to teaching what was it?
My first job was at LTV (Ling-Temco-Vought) Missiles and Electronics as a Senior Engineer on the ASAT (Antisatellite) Missile Program. I moved to Merit Technology Inc. in Plano and worked on Air Force mission planning and intelligence systems, as well as on Ground control stations for a variety of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) platforms. After leaving the military development space, I joined Comar Inc. in Richardson as Director of Engineering where we built a number of computer vision-based systems for industrial control and manufacturing systems, including newspaper printing, food sorting and packaging. Prior to moving into education full-time, I started and led four separate business ventures in systems consulting and technical training, which included Productivity Systems Inc., Software Engineering Concepts, Inc., Cyber Dimensions Inc. and Cornerstone Knowledge, Inc.
How has the CCN helped you?
The CCN has helped me in getting to know people in the pipeline for our degree programs. Early participation in the CCN led us to understand the need for our BAIT (Bachelor of Arts in Information Technology) degree in industry, and helped us to create a program that had a relatively seamless integration with community college programs. CCN members were the motivating force behind our more recent efforts to develop the online BAIT program.
What is the best thing about being a part of CCN?
All the people I have met across the country that have shared their knowledge and experiences, and supported and encouraged my efforts even when those at my home institution did not.
What advice would you give a new community college joining CCN?
Be as involved as you can possibly be. Use all the resources made available to you. Learn from those who are doing new things, as well as those who are doing old things better. There is no single better source of wisdom about running technology programs than the collective wisdom and experience of this group.
Is there anything you would like to suggest to improve the CCN program?
We need more university and high school members to complete the pipeline! Oh wait – we are already working on that this time! 🙂
How do you see the IT landscape changing in the next 5 years?
Internet of things is certainly looming larger on the horizon and with it comes even more challenges in the areas of privacy and security. Wearable and even more mobile devices and virtual and augmented reality are also big players to come in certain spaces. Managing and analyzing all of the data that is available and that will be gathered is also a herculean task that we will need to address. Lots of new challenges that will help keep our curriculum fresh, relevant and exciting!
For more information about the CCN community, please visit our website at https://www.connectedtech.org/educators/convergence_college_network.html.