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ARCHIVED  December 1, 1995

Businesses reap benefits of CSU database designs

Every business needs some sort of database. Whether to track sales figures, market trends or other essentials, databases have become vital tools.
The fact remains, through, that not all businesses — especially not small ones — can afford to hire a consultant to create a database. And trying to do it by themselves can be equally unappealing to business owners.
Enter the Business Database Systems and the Systems Development Project classes, prerequisites in the Computer Information Systems Department at the Colorado State University College of Business.
Rather than just discussing database systems, students in the two separate courses create custom computer software for real-world clients in the Fort Collins area.
This fall, Colorado State University students in John Hoxmeier’s Business Database Systems class are working on projects for several area businesses. Custom databases are being created for the local Peace Corps recruiting office, Management Systems Inc., the Estes Park Medical Center Foundation and Colorado State University’s Career Services Department.
“The Computer Information Systems department has always really been focused on the practicum side of learning,´ said Hoxmeier, assistant professor of CIS. “This is something I’ve implemented in this class.”
The professor identifies a primary client for whom he thinks the class should design a database. Students then divide into teams and compete to see which team creates the most useful database for the selected business.
Students also gain real-world experience through required internships that match them with businesses needing databases.
“I think if you have an actual goal, it’s easier to picture,´ said Amity Lehsten, a business student graduating in May with an emphasis in CIS.
She is working on the group projects that this semester will write a database to track job placement and interns for CSU’s Career Services.
The Peace Corps also is benefiting from the course this semester. The Fort Collins recruiting office, located on campus, experiences heavy turnover, said Jon Thompson, a returned Peace Corps volunteer. The office is staffed by graduate students, and there is a two-year limit on working in the office.
“Every time new people come in, they reinvent the wheel,” Thompson said.
The new database will help track applicants, volunteers and their service projects.
“This will help us be able to follow through (with applicants),´ said Carla Semmler, Peace Corps campus recruiter.
Hoxmeier said he typically has five or six real-world businesses to pick from for the classes’ main project. If there were more, he said, they could be used in the internship programs. Typically, the interns are paid.
“It’s not our business to compete with the private sector,” he added. “Most of these businesses couldn’t afford a consultant, and we don’t have long-term operating agreements with them.”
What the students provide otherwise could cost a small business hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
Hoxmeier said he likes the “win-win-win” that the class provides for the university, students and local businesses.

Every business needs some sort of database. Whether to track sales figures, market trends or other essentials, databases have become vital tools.
The fact remains, through, that not all businesses — especially not small ones — can afford to hire a consultant to create a database. And trying to do it by themselves can be equally unappealing to business owners.
Enter the Business Database Systems and the Systems Development Project classes, prerequisites in the Computer Information Systems Department at the Colorado State University College of Business.
Rather than just discussing database systems, students in the two separate courses create custom…

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