Building Automation and the Contextualization of Information Technology: The Journey of a Midwestern Community College in the U.S.

Neal Grandgenett, Pam Perry, Thomas Pensabene, Karen Wegner, Robert Nirenberg, Phil Pilcher, Candi Otterpohl


The buildings in which people work, live, and spend their leisure time are increasingly embedded with sophisticated information technology (IT). This article describes the approach of Metropolitan Community College (MCC) in Omaha, Nebraska of the United States to provide an occupational context to some of their IT coursework by organizing IT instruction around the context of building automation systems (BAS). This contextualization allows IT students not only to study IT as a standalone discipline but also to study its integrated use within a specific occupational context. The article also describes MCC’s focused curriculum design efforts funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program. These efforts toward BAS-contextualization of the IT curriculum have become a catalyst for systematic contextualization of IT instruction at MCC and support the institution’s broader efforts to become a national model in IT instruction and interdisciplinary engagement within the United States. The research-based approach, activities, and outcomes of this project are all described here, as well as the lessons learned by one community college seeking to make their IT program increasingly relevant to their students and the IT workforce of today.

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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