Talking computers? KPC's the place to be

Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2001

If you're interested in computers, there is a place close to home that will foster your interests and lead you to gainful employment.

Kenai Peninsula College's business and industry section is a diverse, yet interrelated collection of disciplines that represent the cutting edge of today's technology. Scott Kraxberger, chair and assistant professor of computer information and office systems, leads the department.

With more than 100 modern, state-of-the-art computer work stations networked among the staff and faculty, and a minimum of 50 computers in three separate computer labs (all of which are Internet connected), the support staff stays busy.

Mark Jensen, KPC's computer guru, along with network technicians Mike Hopp and Don Eide, maintain the servers and associated equipment that keep KPC connected to the University of Alaska system. It is a monumental job that requires constant vigilance and a lot of patience. Student employees Traci Knutson, Sam Roberts, Dan Castimore, Zoya Oskolkoff and Louis Lagoutaris bolster the staff and serve as aides in the computer labs.

Because computers are integral in almost every area of business today, KPC recognizes its programs must evolve with technological advances. Being sensitive to the future and providing an environment that reflects the real world are some the challenges KPC faces daily. Having the latest and greatest hardware and software is not optional when preparing students for a successful transition into the working world.

According to Kraxberger, keeping current is an exhausting process.

Helping KPC in the process will be Information Systems Specialist Dan Beehler, hired as a full-time instructor to begin in January. Beehler comes to KPC from a large computer firm and has specialties in e-commerce, UNIX systems and network security. His addition will complement the existing faculty, which consists of Lynda Brazier, Ray Zagorski, Dayne Clark and Bruce Porter, and will assist in expanding the current programs.

There are many directions a student can take with computer interests. KPC offers a number of two-year technical degrees in the business and computer fields. Programs offered include computer electronics, small business management and office technology. Students also can pursue a micro-computer support specialist certification, completing most of the requirements at KPC.

The department's wheels are constantly turning to produce new information system degree options, and that will not change.

Integrating industry-accepted certification programs into existing programs are one way KPC stays "wired" to the future. This semester KPC has partnered with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District to establish a CISCO Academy related course being held at Kenai Central High School.

CISCO is a leader in computer networking and has developed a curriculum that, when completed, results in a nationally recognized certification. The KPC class at KCHS is at full capacity, and half the students are from the high school. The course leads to three college credits and meets the requirements of the first class in the CISCO series. This is one way KPC can offer programs on the cutting edge of an industry advancing at an exponential rate.

KPC's computer lab work stations have been specially designed to enable students to fully view the instructor during class. In addition, there is a projection system so the class can see the instructor's keyboard as they learn. The environment is user friendly and geared toward making what can be confusing, straightforward.

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