Huntsville Times - UAH Program to Help Grads Find Online Jobs

6/7/99 - The Huntsville Times

by Caney Sherfield, Times Staff Writer

The University of Alabama in Huntsville will add a Web page design program to its fall curriculum to help future graduates land online jobs.

Dr. Clarke Rountree, associate professor and chairman of communication arts at UAH, said Monday the program is an important addition to the communication arts curriculum. The program - which will be offered as a minor but is not yet certified as a major course of study - integrates elements of computer programming, graphic design and communication, he said.

"Graduates will come out of this program knowing the computer side, such as elements of a Web site, how to make it look attractive, and why they're doing it - whether it be informative or persuasive," Rountree said.

The program has already sparked the interest of several students who have pre-registered for some classes.

Cathy Kearney, a graphic design major at UAH, said she signed up for the Web design minor because, as a nontraditional student with two teen-agers, she recognizes the importance of being proficient in anything computer and Internet-related.

"Any degree you get should be computer-related if you want to get a good job and advance in business, whether it's technical or in sales," she said.

The same goes for Dennis Greenwood, a 25 year veteran of the newspaper business and former owner of Eastern Shore Publishing Co. Greenwood, also a former sports editor for the Starkville (Miss.) Daily News, said the Web design major is useful as continuing education for professionals.

"It will be beneficial if I go back to a regular newspaper or decide to go into online publishing," Greenwood said. "There seems to be a great demand for it in the job market, and it's something you can do from your home and turn into a home business."

Michael Carmean, planning committee member and editor-in-chief of the Alabama Live Web site, said he is excited UAH is starting such a program.

"This is one of the few programs I know that concentrates on Web development by combining the disciplines of technology and liberal arts," Carmean said. "We need more graduates who understand the basics of journalism, and at the same time, are comfortable with technology."

The program consists of 12 hours of required course work in communication arts, art studio and management information systems (MIS). A one-hour introductory course in computer-mediated communication - any communication that uses computers as a conduit - also is required.

It will be offered as a minor for students in all majors, but those majoring in communication arts, art studio and MIS are best positioned to complete the minor courses as part of their major and general education requirements, Rountree said.

Overlapping those three majors will allow students to complete the total required courses - 40 semester hours - more quickly, he said.

Although the amount of required course work is almost twice that of a typical minor, Rountree said the benefits will outweigh the work load.

"Companies want somebody who can do the programming and the graphics," Rountree said. "The person who comes out of here will be well-rounded and well-grounded.

"They will be very popular and very marketable."