Pilot Program in Information Strategy

January 16, 2012

Last summer, five U.S. Navy employees from around the country uprooted their lives and moved to Pittsburgh in order to pursue the Master of Information Technology Strategy (MITS) degree. A cooperative endeavor of Carnegie Mellon University's College of Engineering (CIT), School of Computer Science (SCS) and Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences (H&SS), this brand new program administrated by the INI prepares students to develop and manage innovative information technology systems while advancing their knowledge of information analysis and cyber threats.

Rick Lanchantin, a MITS student, found out about the program just a few hours before the deadline to apply for it. "There was about a five week period from when I applied to when I was accepted," he said. "And then my son and I hopped in my truck and drove up from Virginia Beach."

In Virginia Beach Lanchantin works for the Navy Cyber Forces in the Office of Naval Intelligence. The two hardest things about making this transition for him have been taking written tests again, and missing his two sons back at home. However, Lanchantin has been enjoying his time learning from instructors such as Drs. Nicolas Christin and Bill Nace, and realizes he may be luckier than some other INI students.

"For folks that are younger there's more pressure to find a job, whereas I'm obligated to stay in my job for four years after this," Lanchantin explained, with a nod to the competitive job market.

While Lanchantin stays busy putting in long hours and hard work toward his studies, he has also found time to participate in a CMU tradition with some of his classmates. Lanchantin, along with fellow MITS students T. Davies, Patty Walters, Lieutenant Brian Evans, and MSISTM student Marcus Smith, who had an internship with the Navy, painted The Fence for the Army-Navy football game in December.

Even though they were snowed on, all involved had a great time becoming a part of CMU history, and getting ready for the decade-long streak of Navy wins. In fact, Lanchantin is set on painting the fence becoming a regular tradition at the INI--and is offering incentives for others to carry it on.

"If some group of INI students forms and has members from at least four countries, is co-ed and enlists the help (they have to paint) of either Drs. Tsamitis, Nace, or Christin, I will pay for the paint, drive them to get it (brushes included), and will also buy two rounds of drinks for the group," Lanchantin promised.

In addition to rallying the troops for future fence painting, Lanchantin is enjoying the later work hours, having a break from the responsibility of managing workers under him, the opportunity of getting to interact with and learn from his professors, and the overall experience.

"The administration here is ridiculously helpful; they go out of their way to help us," Lanchantin stated. "Yeah, the work is hard, but it's hard everywhere, so it might as well be in a nice environment."

Pictured above in front of The Fence: Patty Walters, Rick Lanchantin, T. Davies, Marcus Smith and Brian Evans