Computer science, multimedia departments come together for new major


by Rosa Gude, Special to The Simpsonian

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Simpson College has a new major that is preparing students for a more diverse career in professional media platforms.

This new major, interactive media, is a collaboration between the multimedia communication and computer science departments. It can be an added minor as well, giving students an array of skills in both areas.

Paul Craven, head of the computer science department, spearheaded the idea five years ago and brought it to the dean. It was vetoed. Five years later, it was again brought to current Academic Dean Kent Eaton and was approved quickly.

Professor Brian Steffen, head of the multimedia communications department, is one of the professors spearheading the project.

“The interactive media major and minor combines the content skills of multimedia journalism with the computer skills needed,” Steffen said.

This major will benefit students pursuing a career with companies that are doing digital marketing and need people with computer and creative skills to carry out projects, Steffen said.

Interactive media hosts a variety of courses including digital.

“There is graphic design embedded into it as well as fundamentals of design course that is required,” Steffen said.

Not only is this new major backed by faculty, professionals in the work force agree it is a great addition to Simpson’s curriculum.

Kelly Fluharty, former communications director at Principal Financial Group in Des Moines, said interactive media will give Simpson students an advantage in the job market.

“I would say that this new major fits into a lot of things we do at Principal,” Fluharty said. “It’s something we need at corporations: incoming employees to be diverse in their skill sets.”

Students at Simpson are already taking advantage of this innovative area of study which is one of two programs in the state of Iowa.

Taia Veren, a junior public relations major, began her interactive media minor this semester. She said she’s adding it to get an edge in marketable job skills.

“I think interactive media will make me stand out because I won’t just be a writer or a speaker,” Veren said. “I’ll have design and technical skills that will help me to be more marketable than someone without a variety of skills.”

Steffen said the faculty in both areas hope the interactive media major will draw attention to new interests for students.