Learn More About Informatics
- understanding the impact of technology and information on people.
- the development of new uses for technology.
- the application of information technology in the context of another field.
Information technology (IT) is rapidly changing the world, creating new challenges and opportunities every day. Informatics equips students to study IT, consider its social impact, and find ways to use technology to solve problems. The aim is to produce qualified information technology professionals who understand the ways people work with and use information, and who can develop solutions that are effective and easy-to-use. Informatics is also interested in how people transform technology, and how technology transforms us. Usually, informatics is combined with another field of study or cognate (see “What is a Cognate?”).
Our faculty focus on three areas in the field of informatics:
- Human-centered informatics examines the interaction of technology and society.
- Domain-centered informatics aids disciplines like medicine, security, chemistry, and even music that can benefit from information technology. Examples of these include bioinformatics and cybersecurity.
- Technology-centered informatics is oriented toward software and hardware. This is the area most commonly referred to as computer science.
Computer science is the systematic study of computation, hardware systems, software systems, and networks, combined with the design and analysis of algorithms and data structures. It is the foundation upon which all branches of information technology rest. Students of computer science learn to design and implement systems to manage and visualize data, control robots, model human cognition, extract information from vast volumes of data, and build the tools used by other IT professionals.
Informatics requires an understanding of the same areas studied by computer scientists, but it is more focused on the best applications of these technologies and is therefore less technical, putting emphasis instead on social and psychological aspects of information technology. Informatics prepares professionals to use information technology to solve problems in a variety of settings. The degree emphasizes the development of new uses for technologies, always keeping in mind that needs of people and the best and most appropriate uses for technology.
Where other schools excel in engineering, Informatics is building its reputation on human-centered and area-specific.
Informatics balanced by strong foundations, systems, databases and programming languages provided by the Department of Computer and Information Sciences as well as area-specific courses provided by other academic units such as biology, arts, communications, business, and others.
In many ways, informatics is a bridge connecting IT to a particular field of study such as biology, chemistry, fine arts, telecommunications, geography, business, economics, journalism, etc. Because of this, all undergraduate Informatics students choose a field or discipline that interests them, which we call a “cognate.” The cognate allows them to follow their own personal interests and take courses in other programs at Indiana University.
Students might do a biology cognate to pursue bioinformatics; a fine arts cognate to learn quality Web design, animation, and interactive art; or a computer science cognate to add further technology strength to our human-centered, problem solving curriculum.
Cognates enable our students to work with IT in innovative ways that fit their interests. For example, one of our students had a cognate in fine arts. She mentioned that her parents had wanted her to major in business or computer science because she could always find a job, but she was really interested in art. Informatics allowed her to pursue both of her goals.
Here is an approved list of cognates, more details about each one, and the list of required courses (please see the advising sheets for cognates that have no links):
Informatics students blend strong technology skills with a traditional liberal arts foundation. They are problem-solvers who understand the broader context for learning and how it applies in the world beyond technology. Many Informatics graduates are familiar with the content side of business and with business processes, especially as they relate to the use of IT.
- A technical understanding of how computing systems and programs operate
- Ability to adapt/assess and apply new trends in IT
- Well-developed problem-solving skills
- Ability to work in teams, such as those formed in courses like I450
- Well-developed communications skills to clearly convey solutions and observations to others
- An understanding of social and ethical principals as they relate to IT issues
- Problem Solving: requirements analysis, solution design, prototype development, data modeling, process modeling, deductive reasoning, human and computer interaction (HCI)
- Programming Languages: C++, Java, Visual Basic .Net
- Content Development: Flash, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Frontpage
- Database Access: ASP .NET, PHP, JSP
- Data Management: Oracle, MySQL, ACCESS
With a degree, graduates might do the following:
- Work as consultants to help e-businesses conduct transactions and interact with customers online.
- Streamline databases and design customized software to better anticipate the needs of customers.
- Create better ways to manage patient records and share them with diverse health-care providers.
- Participate on teams with biologists and chemists to develop software that enable them to more easily access vast amounts of information from the Human Genome and the Chemical Abstracts databases.
- Help design or maintain computer systems.
- Help design the next generation of computer games.
- Train others how to effectively use the technology.
The answer is a resounding yes! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. These occupations are projected to add about 557,100 new jobs” (www.bls.gov), and the salary for informatics graduates is over twice the national average!
In a recent survey, 100% of our alums reported landing a job in their field after graduation. Why are they so successful? Most graduates cited their combination of technical IT skills and knowledge of the cognate area. They especially appreciated the communications training they received in our program, as well as the opportunity to work on real life projects in a team environment in their capstone course.
There are numerous opportunities for Informatics graduates within our region as well as nationally. Job titles our students hold include:
- Business Analyst
- Systems Analyst
- IT Specialist/MIS Technician
- Network Application Specialist
- Webmaster/Graphic Designer
- IT Trainer
- Take any course that helps you expand your computer experience.
- Take as many math and science courses as possible.
- Practice your communications skills, such as writing and oral presentation.
- If possible, learn a popular programming language, such as Visual Basic, C++ or Java.
- Learn to navigate the Web and create a Web site.
- Write games instead of just playing them.
- Be observant about the many ways information technology impacts your life.
As a freshman, you can explore informatics by taking I101 Introduction to Informatics. You can explore the computer science major by taking C101. Contact an informatics advisor about your options.