Faculty Spotlight: Meet Robert Rokey, Master of Science in Information Systems Academic Director

We enjoy introducing prospective students to our University of Cincinnati (UC) staff, so they can learn more about the people they’ll interact with here at UC.

Today, you’ll meet Robert Rokey and learn about his connection to our highly ranked Master of Science in Information Systems (MS-IS) program and the new online MS-IS degree modeled after it.

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How long have you worked for the University? And how long have you had a connection to the MS-IS degree?

I came here in 2003, and I’ve been the MS-IS Academic Director since 2011.

What’s involved in being the MS-IS Program Director?

I’m connected to our students throughout their entire UC experience. Early on, this means I’m involved in the recruiting process, evaluating and selecting students to join the MS-IS program. I participate in student orientation, welcoming them to our program.

I teach program courses, such as IS7020 Systems Analysis and Design, working alongside other MS-IS faculty members our students get to know and learn from.

Another aspect of my role is that of an advisor. In this capacity, I evaluate the viability of internships and projects, providing feedback on students’ interests and choices. I advise students on networking at events that include case competitions. When students are ready to think about what comes next, we meet to discuss different career paths after they graduate. I also help ensure students’ readiness to meet UC’s graduation requirements. And I like to stay involved with events and activities that help graduates be part of our Operations, Business Analytics, and Information Systems (OBAIS) Department and larger Bearcat family.

Who do you believe will be attracted to the new online MS-IS degree?

I’m sure we’ll see many students who work full-time and want to increase their value to their current employer or hope to change the direction their career is going. Our ideal student is a self-starter who can articulate why they want to pursue the MS-IS degree.

The online master’s will likely attract students who have a technical undergraduate degree with work experience that’s closely tied to Information Systems. In our traditional MS-IS program, we’ve had successful students who come in from outside IS, such as a German undergraduate degree and a music degree. Students with a non-technical degree and background, such as these, can succeed in our program — they’ll just have to work a bit harder.

What are some stand-out courses in UC Online’s information systems master’s degree?

In terms of core courses, IS7030 Data Modeling and IS7032 Database Design come to mind. UC’s program is known for the quality of these courses. In recent years, Professor Chiang has been developing a machine learning course students will find interesting.

Can you tell us about the experiential component of the online program and how the degree is designed to be flexible? And what guidance does UC Online provide students working toward an MS-IS degree?

In the in-person MS-IS in degree, there are two fundamental ways students fulfill the experiential component after completing the core courses. The most common path for full-time, in-person students is the internship. For our part-time students, a typical way is through pursuing a project. A project must be something that falls outside their everyday job. It can be with their current employer but it should be outside the scope of their position.

The reason for this is because it’s through this experiential component that students connect the academic to the real world. If students simply do what they’ve always done, the quality of the reflection will be reduced.

My guess is that most online students will take the project path, but they are certainly free to look for an appropriate internship.

Regarding guidance, project-focused students will meet online with me to discuss viable options. Once they identify a potential project, they’ll submit a proposal that details how they feel this project will help them make the connection between academics and the real world. Included in the student’s proposal will be a tentative schedule for completing it, as this aids in determining if the project is sizable enough. Additionally, students will identify someone at the place where the project is based who can confirm they successfully complete the work.

Whichever path a student takes, internship or project, in their final semester, they’ll be required to make a presentation giving an overview of their internship/project and the related relevancy of their coursework and how it helped them in their internship/project. This presentation is recorded by the student and submitted for our review.

When it comes to networking, are there any opportunities for UC Online students?

There are events put on by various organizations in the college, including career services and a case competition, which remote students can join. And for those online students who plan to take the internship path, there is also a Friday Seminar.

What types of careers do MS-IS graduates go on to have?

Their careers are quite varied, but here are roles some of our program grads have today:

  • Analytics Consultant
  • Associate Application Analyst
  • BI Data Quality Specialist
  • BI ETL Developer
  • Business Analyst
  • Consultant
  • Cyber Security Operations Specialist
  • Data Analyst
  • Data Engineer
  • Data Scientist
  • Developer
  • ETL Developer
  • Manager – Business Data & Strategy
  • Senior Business Consultant
  • Senior Data Analyst
  • SFDC Technical Solutions Consultant
  • Solutions Specialist
Can you tell us anything about specific students in the program?

Sure. One student had spent their career as a COBOL programmer. They came to the MS-IS for two reasons: to change the path of their career and because of the technical and business mix of the MS-IS. Through the combination of their background and the program courses, they moved from being a mainframe COBOL developer to a modern app developer in the mobile area.

Earlier, I mentioned the student with an undergraduate in music education. This student had worked as a music teacher and wanted to change the course of their work life dramatically. Through their experience in the MS-IS program, they acquired the skills and knowledge needed to get a great position at Kroger’s Digital Division.

 

Robert Rokey MSIS video
In this video, UC’s Robert Rokey explains his passion for accessibility, his personal connection to the topic and why it’s critical to eliminate learning barriers for students.
What do you hope students learn from you and the MS-IS program instructors?

That they gain essential knowledge from what we provide in the program. I hope they discover that learning is an ongoing life-long process and that their new-found technical and soft skills set them apart from other MS-IS program grads.

What makes UC Online’s program the better option for students who might compare it to another online MS-IS program?

Our technical and soft skills mix focus bears repeating. For students who live in the Cincinnati metro or nearby, UC has the benefit of being in a city with many Fortune 500 companies that are headquartered here or have a significant presence in the area. Another differentiator is our program’s connection to the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, as this dynamic environment enriches our online and on-campus programs.

What hobbies and activities do you like to do when you’re not at the University?

I enjoy spending time with my two adult children. I like taking long walks and playing with my Siberian husky, Bear. I’m drawn to other outdoor activities, too — camping, hiking, swimming — and love to travel.

Any parting thoughts for someone who is interested in UC Online’s master’s degree in IS?

It’s a high-quality program that benefits from being part of UC’s OBAIS, a department which provides a unique combination of faculty, opportunities and synergies!

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Interested in learning more about UC’s online Master of Science in Information Systems program?

Get in touch with an enrollment specialist by phone at (833) 556-7877 or connect with them online today. They can answer your questions and provide you with information that helps you decide if UC Online is a match for you and your career goals.

Robert Rokey and our other instructors look forward to meeting you!

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