57 years and counting – Computer Info Systems

Long before there were desktops in every home, laptops in every backpack, and an iPod in every pocket there was a Computer Information Systems (CIS) department at San Antonio College.

The year was 1954 and the college listed a handful of computer courses all tied to International Business Machines (IBM). SAC was on the leading edge in education by offering these courses because computers were just moving into the business world.

Over the last 57 years the CIS curriculum has changed to keep pace with the technology – from the main frame operating system of the 1960s and 1970s, to the microcomputer specialist of the 1980s, and today’s network security administration.

In the late 1990s, computer programs saw massive job losses to overseas outsourcing and the dot-com industry bust. But in the last few years, companies are outsourcing IT services to U.S.-based computer firms. This trend is good for students and prospective employees.

Another innovation for SAC and the Alamo Colleges is the Information and Technology and Security Academy (ITSA). Qualified students receive training in high-wage demand occupations during their junior and senior years of high school. Students earn one year of college credits free and participate in a paid internship in key local industries.

This year, a team of ITSA students brought home the national championship of the National High School Cyber Defense Competition. CyberPatriot is a unique competition geared toward teenagers that replicates real life cyber security situations faced by computer administrators.

A teenager preventing break-ins in a computer system – that’s a long way from mountains of magnetic tape and main frames that fill an entire floor of an office building.


T-STEM Scholarships will award $170,000

There is a huge problem in this country with students NOT choosing majors within the sciences. Because of a grant which provides students with scholarship money, SAC is making it a little bit easier for students to award students for majoring in STEM.

Through the T-STEM grant, San Antonio College aims to award 68 students with a scholarship valued at $2,500 each for a whopping grand total of $170,000 just for SAC students! Currently, about 35 SAC students have applied for the scholarships. “We’ll go until we give them all out,” said Angela Stewart, T-STEM liaison. She continued to explain, “If the other four Alamo Colleges don’t award every one of their 68 scholarships, we stand ready to find an eligible SAC student that can use the money.”

Stewart also said, “The most important step in the application process is to provide an official high school transcript.” Remember, if you don’t apply, you don’t even have a shot. Eligible students are encouraged to apply at www.secure.alamo.edu/scholarship/application.aspx, but if a student already completed an Alamo Colleges Scholarship Application then he/she will be automatically considered.

Alamo Colleges and SAC faculty and staff go above and beyond to find opportunities for students to be successful. It is important to us that we give our students a push in the right direction. If this scholarship money can make all the difference for even one student, then it is worth all the time and effort. 

Any current or incoming student who has declared a major in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) instructional program or specific Allied Health program, and has a minimum GPA of 3.0 in high school math and science courses is eligible to apply.

The student must agree to complete 30 hours in the 2012-2013 academic year (Fall, Spring, Summer), and must complete 80 percent of coursework per semester. Additionally, males between the ages of 18 and 25 must be registered with the Selective Service System.

So, if you know anyone that should apply, tell them to get on the ball! And, if you are a student yourself, DOOOOOOO IT already! A list of eligible majors is below.

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Eligible majors include:


Biology (including Biology/Pre-nursing, Pre-Med, Pre-Dental, Pre-Pharmacy, Pre-Veterinary)

Computer Programmer

Computer Support Specialist

Computer Database Specialist

Information Security and Assurance

CADD Civil Design


Cisco Certified Network Associate

Computer Desktop Support Technician

Computer Forensic

Computer programing intermediate

Computer support specialist

Drafting/design engineering technologies

Information Technology and Security academy (ITSA)

Dental Assisting/Assistant

Dental Laboratory Technology/Technician

Emergency Medical Technician

Engineering: All types…Chemical Engineering, Aerospace, Architectural, Civil, Computer, Mechanical, etc.

Engineering Technology

Geological and Earth Sciences


Medical Assisting

Physical Sciences


(*Note: Nursing is NOT an eligible major for T-STEM Scholarships).

SAC Students Talk with NASA Aquanauts

Earlier this summer, SAC students and our visiting guests in the EDGE (Early Development of General Engineering) program got to talk to with NASA aquanauts via a video uplink.

This once-in-a-lifetime experience was made possible because of Dr. Dan Dimitriu, Coordinator of Engineering at SAC, received an invitation from NASA administrators in the educational activities department.

SAC was among five schools to participate on this call including San Jacinto College in Houston and El Paso Community College. Students from the different colleges took turns asking prepared questions. Students also got a virtual tour of the Aquarius habitat where they got a look at what it is like to live in the underwater habitat.

NEEMO is a NASA analog mission where small groups of aquanauts (including astronauts, engineers and scientists) live aboard the submerged habitat. Aquarius, the world’s only undersea research station, is deployed in the Florida Keys and is submerged about 62 feet under the earth’s surface.

SAC takes every opportunity provided to show our students that engineering is cool, and it can be used in a variety of different ways throughout their lives.

For a high school or college student, talking to an astronaut is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!