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CCN Focus: Mark A. Whigham, Calhoun Community College

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 Mark A. Whigham an IT Instructorat Calhoun Community College in Huntsville, AL.

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  1. What do you teach? In our program, we are responsible for teaching a 5-course load during the fall and spring semesters in the Computer Information Systems department. The courses that I teach are one of the following tracks that our program offers: cybersecurity, networking, and programming. The courses that I teach in the cybersecurity and networking track are Information Assurance, Network Communications, Computer Maintenance, Enterprise Virtualization, Server Administration and Network Security. From the programming track I teach Intro to Computer Programming Concepts, Introduction to App Development in Swift, App Development with Swift I, App Development with Swift II, Database Management Systems, C++ programming and Java Programming. Additionally, I teach an Introduction to Computers, and Microcomputer Applications.
  1. Were you always a teacher?If not, what did you do prior to being a teacher? No, I have not always been a teacher. Prior to becoming a teacher, I worked as a Programmer Analyst at Alabama A&M University from Aug 88 – Sept 1991. I was the Academic Computing Coordinator and backup PC coordinator from 1988 – 1989. From 1989 – 1991 I served as the DEC Systems Coordinator. I began working as a System Engineer at DOW Chemical Company from September of 1991 until April of 1993 and from April of 1993 – September of 1993 I served as a Systems Engineer at Computer Data Systems, Incorporated (CDSI). I served as the Management Information Systems (MIS) Director at J. F. Drake State Technical College from April 1997 to April 1998. After leaving Drake State Technical College, I worked as a Software Engineer III at COLSA Corporations supporting the IV&V group on the NMD Ground Based Radar project. From there I worked as the Director of Information Technology at Lane College. From December 1999 to July 2000   If you’re unable to name all the places, please indicate what type of businesses they were.
  1. How long have you been a teacher?I have been teaching for approximately 23 years. I started out teaching data processing part time in 1989 – 1991 at Alabama A&M University. I started teaching full time in September of 1993 to April 1997 at Calhoun Community College. In August of 2000 to August of 2010, I worked at Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, AL and left there in August 2010 to return to Calhoun Community College where I am currently teaching. I started teaching as an adjunct at Huntsville Bible College in 2014 to present when they started an IT emphasis/concentration in their program. We have since started a full Associate Degree program in Information Technology.  ccn focus q-a picture at the screen
  1. What sparked your interest in teaching? What spark my interest in teaching was realizing that teaching for me was a calling. As I reflected on my career, I saw the footprint of teaching in everything I did. So, I got focused and decided to follow the footprint.
  1. What is the secret to successfully teaching IT to students? For me, the secret of successfully teaching IT to students is to help them –
    • Stay focused and time management
    • Work hard
    • Prepare students to develop a diverse skillset for the job market
    • Keeping their skills current
  1. What’s the biggest challenge teaching IT? The biggest challenge of teaching IT is keeping up with a field of study that is constantly changing.
  1. How has the CCN helped you? CCN has helped me by providing me with the necessary training to implement new technologies into our program that keep the students on the cutting edge of technology related to their area of study. The CNN has impacted our program by providing the training in Virtualization. We established a VMWare course in Enterprise Virtualization. I received the training from CCN on VMWare and NetApp.
  1. What is the best thing about being a part of CCN?The best thing about being a part of CCN is the fellowship with fellow colleagues from around the country and the training that CCN provides that help instructors keep abreast of current and evolving technology.
  1. What advice would you give a new community college joining CCN? The advice that I would give to a new community college joining CCN is welcome to a great opportunity to build and/or enhance your program and provide your faculty with a great opportunity for professional development to share with their students about cutting edge technology to prepare them for the workforce of today.
  1. Is there anything you would like to suggest improving the CCN program?The program is run very well, and it is beneficial to me as an instructor, to my students and to our institution.
  1. How do you see the IT landscape changing in the next 5 years? In the next five years, I see the landscape of IT changing in many ways. First, with the growth of IoT, there will be a great need to provide IT professionals with a variety of skills to maintain the IoT devices. Secondly, there will be a high demand for IT to have professionals with machine learning and artificial intelligence skills.
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