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New Northeast Internet of Things curriculum goes live this spring

Community Contributor Tom Wilson • Dec 9, 2019 at 7:30 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — The smart sensors on your car. The doorbell with a camera. The fitness watch on your wrist. If it comes with a data chip or telemetry, the Internet of Things (IoT) encompasses the technology of devices connected to the cyber world.

A new degree concentration at Northeast State aims to train the next generation of smart tech types to keep the 21st Century technology operating and innovating. The Computer Information Technology/Internet of Things (IoT) concentration, goes live as an associate degree program in spring 2020 under the auspices of the college’s Computer and Information Sciences (CIS) division.

“IoT technology touches everything that we see,” said David Blair, dean of Advanced Technologies and head of the CIS department. “Any telemetry data you can imagine from sports watches to medical devices to smart cars now use this technology to function.”

The new IoT degree provides new opportunities for Information Technology students.

From smart refrigerators to dolls to home security and automotive sensors, IoT tech data systems operate through a network of sensors. IoT deals with the enormous global network of connected things and people — all of which collect and share data about the way they are used and the environment around them.

The new concentration creates another avenue for the CIS department to stay current on new technologies and offer students new opportunities. The IoT curriculum pathway awards the associate of applied science degree based on 62 credit hours. The course includes a broad selection of information technology courses and a CIS capstone.

Students learn how to implement sensors, microcontrollers, cloud-based storage, and learn how to program embedded devices with serious considerations on security. Students will develop strong critical-thinking skills and learn within a hands-on lab environment.

“We are very excited to be at the forefront as the first college or university to offer the IoT program,” said Dr. Donna Farrell, associate professor of Computer and Information Sciences at Northeast State. “Our first class starts with Introduction to IoT first offered in the spring semester.”

The associate of applied science degree prepares students for employment in the field of computer science as entry-level IoT technicians. The college’s new Technical Education Complex at the Blountville campus establishes a classroom dedicated to IoT laboratory training.

Students enrolled in IoT course laboratories get experience with tech tools of breadboards, LEDs, resistors and motors that operate devices. Students learn how to build these IoT devices to transmit data to a collectible database.

Blair said the department began working to establish the IoT curriculum approximately one year ago. The Tennessee Board of Regents approved the IoT degree curriculum in November. The approval marked another milestone for Northeast State’s innovative instruction ideas. Farrell said faculty members had several projects in development that would test students’ creativity and critical thinking skills in the new concentration.

Blair noted an IoT project in Holland where IoT system sensors gathered data on livestock. The sensors used culled the animals’ movement patterns, weight, and sleeping habits, among other things. Researchers learned they could predict when a cow could become sick based on the data collected from its behavior. The data helped them treat the single animal and prevent the entire herd from getting sick.

The college’s Computer and Information Sciences Department administers associate degree programs in the curricula of programming, cyber defense, systems administration, networking, and IoT. The department and its programs renewed full accreditation earlier this year through the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE). Faculty expect the IoT curriculum to earn accreditation in the next ATMAE accreditation cycle.