The City of East Point has received a 2020 Technology Innovation Showcase award from the Georgia Technology Authority. The city spent more than two years implementing cybersecurity processes recommended by a group of Robinson undergraduate students in 2018. The recognition is a culmination of those efforts.
As part of their System Development Projects capstone course, the students worked closely with the city’s IT director, Farhadul Islam. They met at the government office once a week, first receiving training on how to pinpoint weaknesses in IT systems and applications. After the “boot camp” of sorts, the students interviewed Islam’s staff and inventoried current network system settings. They got their hands really dirty in the next phase: performing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis and identifying gaps within every IT function. From there, they overhauled the city’s IT policies and guidelines.
“They created a blueprint for me,” Islam said. “I spent several years changing the complete environment, and as a result, we just won the cybersecurity award.”
The Technology Innovation Showcase celebrates work at the state and local government levels. The evaluation committee assesses projects based on criteria including innovation, process improvement, cost efficiency, and customer service. The City of East Point, along with the other nine recipients, will be honored at the Georgia Virtual Digital Government Summit in October.
The students’ efforts got noticed in 2018 as well. For the project, they collaborated with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) College/Underserved Community Partnership Program, and were acknowledged in a ceremony held by the EPA. Other cities and counties across the state of Georgia ended up emulating the IT security and employee training methods the students wrote.
Though the students were undergraduate seniors, they tackled issues faced by real-world consultants. Islam noticed their precociousness—particularly their ability to ask pertinent follow-up questions as well as their critical thinking and soft skills.
The students have gone on to fulfill impressive roles in the computer information systems space. Julie Antonio is inventory control team lead at Academy Sports + Outdoors; Amira Farah, a consultant at Capgemini; Whitney Henley, a technology analyst at Accenture; Taylor Lee, a freelance IT consultant; and Josh Legentus, a management analyst at Seneca Global Services.
“Their business school education gave them a comprehensive understanding of how to think through things and craft valuable solutions,” Islam said. “Robinson students see through more than one lens and are multi-talented, not single-minded.”