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April 29, 2002


MIS students develop database
for Facilities Management

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- When Jason Tremper, a senior from Booneville, stepped into Joe Harder’s MIS420 class, he had no idea it would lead to a part-time job.

But after diving into a database management project for the class, Tremper finds himself working closely with the staff of Indiana State University Facilities Management.  See other MIS projects

“We saw firsthand the great job he and his classmates have done,” said Jim Jensen, director of operations and maintenance. “Because of the project, we were able to find a very qualified student worker. Jason was involved in Phase I of the project and now he’s been able to help us get the database up and running and help make it work.”

Phase I of the project began during the Fall 2001 semester, Harder said. It involved developing a database that would help decrease paperwork and increase efficiency in the way facilities management tracks its work.

Phase II began this semester, with students picking up where the fall class left off — making the database web-accessible to users on campus, so work requests can be made from offices campus wide.

MIS420 is a required course, usually taken during a student’s senior year. Harder, assistant professor of management information systems, began teaching the class nearly four years ago, but Bruce McLaren, chairman of the organizational department, had been doing the same program with his classes before that.

“Using our contacts, or people who have contacted us, we assign students to a ‘real-world problem,’ have them analyze the problem, design a solution, create that solution and deliver it with an operations manual so it has a life after the class. Students document everything they do. It helps us develop a positive image with businesses throughout the community.”

Harder admits to being especially drawn to databases and the knowledge they can provide. He tells his students to squeeze as much information out of their data as they can, to make it most valuable.

That’s what Jensen and his staff plan to do.

“The database allows us to do a query, sort information … It speeds up the process for us and the customer too,” he said. “This database helps us see how many requests were made, to which rooms, what work was done and who did the work and track complaints. It helps us follow trends, track from which accounts dollars are spent and conduct maintenance planning. It helps us better manage everything.”

Jensen and Harder acknowledge that a database, just like a machine, can be designed well or poorly. But they say the students in the MIS classes know what they’re doing.

“Over the years I’ve been very proud of the work the students have done,” Harder said.

The students have even saved the university thousands of dollars, Jensen added.

“Before the MIS students started working on the database, we had a committee looking at various types of software that might do the job,” he said. “We surveyed other universities and took into consideration upgrades and support. Some of the software cost as much as $100,000. But we were able to save the university that money by using university resources and students gained invaluable experience through the process.”

An external advisory board gives the program good reviews. That means a lot for Harder and Jensen, who know the importance of college students gaining experience beyond the classroom.

“A lot of college graduates are looking for jobs and we want our students to have the key selling points to be the ones to get those jobs,” Harder said. “A project like this helps them achieve that goal. It is our mission to develop our students into problem identifiers, problem solvers, solution implementers. It’s a strategic advantage that these students will have to take to the marketplace as a competitive advantage.”

Tremper was joined in Phase I of the project by fellow students Dan Leslie, Maranda Woolverton, Carlos Hernandez, Miranda Bucy and Ola Nelson.

Students working on Phase II of the project include Timothy Harlan, Andy Stetter, Edwin David and Tremper.

Other MIS420 groups are working on databases for managing surplus property, custodial supplies and inventory systems this semester. A minimum of six projects are going each semester, with about four or five students on each project.


Bruce McLaren, chair of the organizational department, professor of
management information systems, School of Business
(812) 237-2086 or

Jennifer Kearns, assistant director, Public Affairs
(812) 237-8037 or

Public Affairs:
(812) 237-3773 or