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Preparing business students for the post-ENRON world

Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics, in a joint effort with the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, is meeting the market demand for highly trained computer forensic experts in the post-ENRON corporate world.

In response to the ENRON scandal, Congress in 2002 implemented the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which requires stricter corporate internal controls and new rules to improve corporate governance and bolster investor confidence. The deadline for compliance with this act is Dec. 31.

Jim Hall, the Peter E. Bennett Chair in Business and Economics, and Ed Kay, professor of computer science and engineering, created a major that grooms students to be aggressively recruited by top consulting and software design firms. The Computer Science and Business (CSB) major—created with the support of former engineering Dean Mohamed El-Aasser, who this month became Lehigh’s new provost, and Richard M. Durand, CBE Dean—is unique in that it is the only one in the nation that offers a joint degree in business and computer science.

Filling a "void of expertise"

With the recent changes in corporate risk management, companies are seeking people who are trained in both business and computer science.

“There are many people who are experts in business and many others who are experts in computer science,” Hall says. “Since most computer science applications are designed to solve business problems, this void of expertise is an anomaly that offers a Lehigh CSB graduate a tremendous opportunity.”

The CSB degree is in its third year and this year’s graduating class will have 14 graduates in the program—each of whom has been approached for future careers.

“It’s important to note that we are not just training students so they can land a job after graduation, we are giving them the strong foundation for their entire career. In years to come, some of them may become Chief Information Officers or run their own high-tech companies. This degree gives them the tools they need,” Hall says.

Lehigh is able to offer this joint degree because of its highly ranked world-class engineering and business colleges. Students obtain the skills and training needed to understand business functions and business-related problems, analyze business user information needs, design computer-based information systems, and implement solutions in business organizations.

With its market-driven approach, CBE is always seeking ways to train the world’s most sought-after business leaders.

“Before we developed this degree, we conducted a market survey of 38 consulting companies, software development organizations, and public accounting firms that actively recruit computer science majors and business graduates from Lehigh,” Hall says. “Their input helped us form the CSB major. The companies’ responses to our graduates are phenomenal.”

--Kim Plyler

Posted on Friday, November 19, 2004

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