Ryan Charles went back to school, while working as a technical apprentice at Cerner.
He attended the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri – Kansas City, but finally settled on studying computer science at UCM through the Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit.
While the computer science and cybersecurity programs are similar to those offered in Warrensburg, the MIC programs are more convenient to students living in the Kansas City area and offer innovative facilities to allow students to collaborate.
Belinda Copus, undergraduate program coordinator and assistant professor for computer science, said the MIC offers the software development concentration of computer science, along with the two concentrations of cybersecurity – secure software development and cyber operations.
Copus said approximately 80 students are enrolled in the computer science and cybersecurity programs at the MIC. She said about 40 of those students are in the MIC high school-to-bachelors program.
Copus said prerequisites required to begin the program at the MIC must be taken at the Warrensburg campus, or taken at a different institution and transferred in.
Copus said many of the students enrolled in the the MIC computer science and cybersecurity programs are non traditional students like Charles.
“A lot of times, these are professionals who are already working in the company doing some kind of software or cyber work,” Copus said. “So they’re already in their job. And they’re looking to get this degree for a promotion or to move into a different area.”
Since the MIC is only about 15 miles from downtown Kansas City, it acts as an option for those in the Kansas City area wanting to continue their education.
Charles said he prefers the MIC program over similar programs offered at other Kansas City area institutions, like KU and UMKC. At KU, Charles disliked the amount of math in classes.
“There was significantly more math at KU,” Charles said. “If I stayed with that program for computer engineering, I typically would’ve had to take Calc 3. That was no bueno for me.”
Charles said many classes at UMKC were taught by graduate students.
“(At) UMKC, I didn’t like the fact that everything was mainly taught by grad students,” Charles said. “That really irked me. If I’m paying for tuition, I’d like to be taught by someone who, at least, isn’t a student.
“The fact that professors do teach here with masters or a Ph.D., I find, more professional, I guess.” Charles said.
In addition to professors teaching at the MIC, Charles said he likes the approachability of many professors.
“A majority of the professors are very friendly and very down to earth,” Charles said. “And they explain the concepts pretty directly.”
Charles said he owes a lot of his success at MIC to Copus.
“Professor Copus is definitely the GOAT. She is the greatest of all time,” Charles said. “She has helped me significantly with everything – combing through my degree audit, transferring my classes, testing out of courses. The amount of work she does is phenomenal.”
The MIC computer science and cybersecurity program offers greater flexibility as they’re taught in the evenings and on Saturdays, which is good news for those wanting to continue their education while keeping their job.
At MIC, you’ll find students writing on the walls with dry-erase markers. Classrooms at the MIC lack computers, including computer science classrooms. Students at MIC are expected to bring their own devices.
Classes at MIC are more heavy on collaborative work.
“Our students will take several classes which incorporate group projects in which the students collaborate to find creative solutions to real-world computing problems,” Copus said.
Although Charles has missed out on freshman and sophomore classes, he said a majority of the classes he has taken at the MIC are nearly perfect.
“A majority of them are perfect for preparing a student for the workforce in general in the industry,” Charlies said.
However, Charles had one suggestion for an improvement to some of the computer science and cybersecurity courses offered at MIC.
“The focus of them could be redirected in a sense that is more applicable to prepare students for what is coming in the future — for going into a corporation or whether it’s working here in Kansas City or going to Seattle or going to The Valley in California,” Charles said. “But a majority of classes, again, are perfect for that and they offer a lot of materials.”