Richard Lomotey and Evan McStay in a computer lab

Information Sciences and Technology: Changing the world

IST student Evan McStay is adapting a phone app he and his classmates developed for Ghanaian cocoa farmers into one aimed at corn and bean farmers in western Pennsylvania.
By: April Johnston

When crops contract diseases, farmers have places to go to find the correct diagnosis and cure, most likely a behemoth of a book that weighs as much as a piece of farm equipment.

And, as Richard Lomotey, assistant professor of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State Beaver, points out, that’s not exactly convenient.

“Nobody goes to their farm with a book,” Lomotey said.

What farmers do carry is what everyone carries — a well-equipped smartphone. So last semester, Lomotey, whose expertise lies in developing mobile applications for health care and agriculture, challenged his students to create an app that, theoretically, would help cocoa pod farmers in Ghana diagnose disease and find the right pesticide to treat it.

Senior IST major Evan McStay was on the team that developed the app, and the results were so promising that Lomotey suggested McStay expand the scope of the project and create a similar application for western Pennsylvania farmers.

So McStay applied for and received a $2,000 Penn State Student Engagement Network Grant. The Student Engagement Network serves those who wish to expand their undergraduate experience through experiential learning opportunities.

The grant allowed McStay to spend part of his summer — when he wasn’t interning at FedEx — gathering research and data, organizing that data into the application, and, finally, reaching out to local farmers to test the app.

“It will give me the experience of fully developing an app and helping the community,” McStay said.

And that, Lomotey insists, is the goal of IST.

“The community benefits when we use technical knowledge to solve a real-world problem,” Lomotey said. “Our students are going out and transforming the world around us.”

What is Information Sciences and Technology?

Computer Science majors develop new technologies. Information Sciences and Technology majors apply those technologies to solve real-world problems. At Penn State Beaver, students have two options for study: Information Systems Design and Development or Information Technology Integration and Application. Both options are interdisciplinary, dynamic and easily adapted to meet the changing needs of the business and technology landscapes.

Beaver students also have a number of opportunities outside of the classroom, including working with professors on research and assisting local industry and non-profits with technology projects.

Graduates of the Information Sciences and Technology program are in high demand and find jobs in a wide array of disciplines. Our graduates find careers not only in technology, but also in business, health care, the government, the arts, and many other fields.

Possible job titles include: information systems engineer, web content manager, technology integration associate and systems administrator.