Information Systems

Featured Faculty

Faculty Director

Faisal Akkawi is the faculty director of the Master of Science in Information Systems Program. His area of specialization is software architecture for concurrent systems, and his research interests also include reactive/adaptive intelligent systems and design issues of concurrent programming languages. Selected for the NASA Faculty Fellowship Program in 2003, Akkawi designed and implemented a framework that was used in the advanced diagnostic and caution and warning system for the International Space Station. He has an MS in electrical engineering and a PhD in computer science from Illinois Institute of Technology.

Shaddy Abado has instructed a number of undergraduate and graduate classes and has presented research at national conferences and published papers in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings. He has a PhD in aerospace and mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, researching light-fluid interactions and developing sensors and numerical methods to study and analyze them.

Kayed Akkawi is the dean of Morris Graduate School of Management at Robert Morris University. He has extensive teaching experience at the graduate level, including at Illinois Institute of Technology. His professional projects have included developing a natural language interface for information retrieval, a search engine for accessing large-scale databases, and a toolkit for measuring retrieval accuracy for bilingual information. Akkawi serves as the chair of the educational committee for the Chicago-Amman International Sister Cities Program. Other professional memberships include the Association for Computing Machinery and the Arab-American Association of Engineers and Architects. He has a PhD in computer science and an MS in electrical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology.
Atef Bader has been working in the IT industry for many years and currently is a member of the technical staff at Lucent Technologies. He is a recognized expert in object-oriented technology, automated software testing, concurrent software systems and software architecture. His technical papers have been presented at numerous conferences and published in technical journals. Bader holds a PhD in computer science from Illinois Institute of Technology.
After ten years as a consultant in the computer industry for oil and gas and accounting firms in Texas, Rick Blazek felt it was important to continue his education. He earned both a master's and PhD from NOVA Southeastern University in Computer and Information Science. His dissertation was on enhanced search algorithms and ranking systems for novice researchers. His special research interests include many aspects of information security especially secure database design and implementation. Professor Blazek has continued his consulting work with retail and professional organizations while teaching both graduate and under graduate courses. He holds many industry certifications including Certified Ethical Hacking.

Gunther Branham is a seasoned senior level IT executive. His experience includes CIO level responsibility for several global corporate functions for a Fortune 100 company. His responsibilities included systems planning, budgeting, software delivery and systems operations for Global Engineering and Quality and Regulatory Systems. Additional experience includes IT leadership for commercial, manufacturing and distribution, research and development, medical, regulatory and sales and marketing systems. Other significant accomplishments include initiating corporate-wide offshore IT services sourcing, starting an enterprise applications integration technology center, launching and managing key e-commerce activities and integration and startup of manufacturing facility systems. Branham earned a BA in physics from the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, and an MS in Business Management from the University of Northern Colorado.

Benjamin Dalgaard is a software engineer with experience in several industries including projects in finance, transportation and security. His current projects are focused on developing architectures to accommodate a growing need for data storage and data processing. His interests include mobile computing, software development and big-data technologies. Dalgaard has an MS in computer information systems from Northwestern University and since graduating has since taught a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses in software and database development. He is also on the technology committee for The Escape big data conference which is hosted in part by Northwestern University.

Leslie Fischer is a Lecturer in the Writing Program. With more than 25 years of experience teaching English, Business Writing and Communication at Northwestern University and the School of Professional Studies, Fischer is a seasoned mentor in writing, communication, and teamwork. Experienced as both a student and teacher of online courses, she understands how students learn online and the particular challenges for adult students. Since 2007, Fischer has mentored engineering students in the Design Thinking and Communication program. There, she teaches student engineers how to communicate and cooperate well as they work on real-world projects for clients such as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Rimland Collaborative Care for Individuals with Autism, Lambs Farm, and the Wilmette Park District. Fischer earned her MA in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to her work in higher education, she has significant professional experience as an editor, writer, and trainer. Fischer was the Editor for the American Hemerocallis Society. She has worked with diverse clients, from global banks to educational publishers to the local humanities festival.
Jeff Gott has more than 35 years of multifaceted information systems experience gained from a variety of positions in multiple companies and IT functions as both an individual contributor and manager of IT professionals. His management experience includes more than 25 years as a manager and director leading the IT functions of Global Information Services Planning, Enterprise Architecture, Disaster Recovery Planning, Corporate Business Systems, Manufacturing Planning Systems, and Operations. His experience includes business relationship management consulting with business leaders to establish strategic information system programs and projects, strategy and service planning for centralized and distributed IT functions, managing programs and projects to implement new business and IT capabilities, disaster recovery planning and testing, facilitating enterprise architecture, leading systems development, IT supplier relationship management, enterprise software license management, and systems operations and administration. Jeff has experience managing information systems to support key business processes in Manufacturing, Finance, Quality, Legal, Human Resources, Marketing, Information Systems, and various corporate administration functions. Jeff is currently an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University's School of Professional Studies developing and teaching classes in information technology management and business analysis.

Christopher Hield is the director of software development and system testing at the Chicago Board Options Exchange. As director of CBOEdirect, CBOE’s state-of-the-art electronic financial trading system, he is responsible for the design, development and maintenance of multitiered, service-based software. Before joining CBOE, Hield worked as a senior software engineer and business consultant with Hitachi Computer Products America, developing object-based data mining and data exploration tools for the healthcare industry. Before then he spent 13 years in the decision and information sciences division at Argonne National Laboratory as senior software engineer and technical lead in the information systems section; his duties included developing object-based information systems as well as object-oriented frameworks to support distributed multidisciplinary modeling, simulation and visualization applications. Since 2001 he has been an instructor at Illinois Institute of Technology and DePaul University as well as Northwestern, teaching courses in software design, development and testing. Hield holds an MS in computer science.

Sunil Kakade has over 18 years' experience in various technical and leadership roles focused on lT transformation initiatives, analytics driven software development and big data technologies. Sunil is a big data and data science evangelist with hands-on expertise in implementing Hadoop and NoSQL technologies. Sunil leads the architecture and delivery of business systems for a fortune 100 company. His areas of interests include machine learning, data science, legacy systems modernization and open source technologies. His research papers have been presented at multiple international conferences and published in technical journals. He has patents pending in areas of IT and retail processes. Kakade has a MS in information technology and management from the Illinois Institute of Technology at Chicago and a MS in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, researching applications of artificial intelligence to manufacturing processes.

Nate McNamara is an executive director in the enterprise application infrastructure team at Morgan Stanley. In addition to writing software libraries and tools (in multiple programming languages) utilized throughout Morgan Stanley, McNamara develops and delivers intensive technical courses on high-performance real-time and historical databases. He has worked as a professional programmer in a variety of industries for nearly 30 years. He received in MS in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley.

Thomas W. Miller is faculty director of the Predictive Analytics program. He has helped to design courses for the program, including Marketing Analytics, Advanced Modeling Techniques, Data Visualization, Database Systems and Data Preparation, Web and Network Data Science, Sports Management Analytics, and the capstone course. He has taught extensively in the program, offering courses in modeling methods, machine learning, and web analytics. Before joining the faculty at Northwestern, Miller spent fifteen years in business IT in the computer and transportation industries. He also directed the A. C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research and taught market research and business strategy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Miller is consulting editor to Pearson Education in practical data science. His books with Pearson include Data and Text Mining, Modeling Methods in Predictive Analytics with Python and R, Web and Network Data Science, Marketing Data Science, and Sports Analytics and Data Science. Miller is also owner of Research Publishers LLC and its ToutBay division, a technical publisher and provider of data science services. He has consulted widely in the areas of retail site selection, product positioning, segmentation, and pricing in competitive markets, and has worked with predictive models for more than thirty years. Miller holds a PhD in psychology (psychometrics) and a master's degree in statistics from the University of Minnesota, and an MBA and master's degree in economics from the University of Oregon.

Charles Pak has taught information systems courses for over 25 years as an IS practitioner and professor. Professionally, he has managed U.S. Federal Government data centers, and has designed, tested, implemented, and maintained many of these enterprise network sites that encompass distributed sites across the U.S. and internationally. He has managed state-of-the art systems for military and federal government missions for which he was deployed. His research topics include cyber security, critical infrastructure protection (CIP), PKI, cyber counter terrorism, and risk assessment and management. His recent publications include;Near Real-time Risk Assessment Using Hidden Markov Models. Nova Southeastern University, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, Risk Forecast Using Hidden Markov Models. Research in Information Technology (RIT), ACM, SIGITE, 7(2), 4-15, Asset Priority Risk Assessment Using Hidden Markov Models. Proceedings of the 10th ACM SIGITE, Fairfax, Virginia, 2009, 65-73, The near real time statistical asset priority driven (nrtsapd) risk assessment. Proceedings of the 9th ACM SIGITE, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2008, 105-112. Pak holds several industry certifications: CISM, CRISC, CISSP, ITIL, SSCP, MCSE, MCT, and CCNA.  He earned his PhD in information security from Nova Southeastern University, a MS in network security from Capitol College, and a BS in electrical engineering from Penn State University.

Sana Samawi is a program manager at IBM, leading global and cross-functional teams and developments to deliver value to customers and business partners. She has more than 23 years in business transformation and information technology services in industries ranging from banking and finance to e-commerce and in the government sector. She was selected to attend IBM Leadership Exchange, which recognizes the contributions of IBM leaders across the globe and facilitates cross-cultural interchange. Samawi earned both BS and MS in computer science from DePaul University and a master’s certificate in project management from George Washington University. She has PMI (Project Management Institute), IBM senior project manager and IBM executive project manager certifications.

John Sands is a coprincipal investigator for Center for System Security and Information Assurance, one of the country’s first comprehensive centers for advanced technology education in cyber security. He also directs training at the Cisco Area Training Center of Illinois. He has extensive experience in wireless networking and network infrastructure and security. He has authored several textbooks, white papers and lab manuals and has been invited to speak at several national conferences. A certified information systems security professional, Sands has been a professor of information technology for more than 23 years. He has a PhD from Colorado State University and an MA in human performance and evaluation.

Gabriel Schofield is director of application development at Symphony Asset Management LLC. With over 15 years of experience as a financial services technology professional, he combines strong leadership skills with a passion for applying technology to solve complex business problems. Schofield has led project teams that have delivered industry-leading solutions for a variety of front and back-office financial applications. Schofield has coauthored a book, MCSA Guide to Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and is a proactive member of several industry groups that define and maintain financial messaging and data standards. Schofield has an MBA from Durham University, an MS in information systems from Northwestern University, and is a CFA charterholder.

William Sunna has more than eight years of data solutions experience in industry as a principal consultant to several Fortune 500 companies in insurance, retail and financial services. He also teaches courses in programming, database concepts and design, web development and other computer science areas at the University of Illinois at Chicago as well as Northwestern. He has presented his research in multiple conferences and workshops and has coauthored articles in more than 12 publications, including Transactions in GIS, Journal of Visual Languages and Computing and International Journal of Electronic Government Research. Sunna earned a PhD in computer science from the University of Illinois at Chicago, researching automatic alignment of heterogeneous ontologies in the geospatial information domain.

William Waas is the founder and CEO of the Information Technology Executive Exchange, an industry association for IT executives. His previous experience was as executive vice president of ValCom, a $135 million systems integrator, where he was responsible for operations and marketing; senior vice president of service and support at Vanstar Corporation, a $2.5 billion dollar system integrator, where he headed the $250 million service organization, with responsibility for field service, help desk and logistics and helped the organization grow from $15 million in 1990 to over $250 million in 1997; vice president of value-added services at Dell Computer Corporation, responsible for the sale and delivery of software, peripherals and system integration services in a $750 million division of Dell; as a manager in strategic planning, finance and service management at Grumman Data Systems Corporation. Active in the industry, Waas is chairman of the Illinois Technology Foundation, cofounded the Service Section of CompTIA and was a member of its board and chairman from 1995 to 1997. He also served on the board of the Association for Service Management International from 1997 to 2000. Wass holds a BBA in accounting and an MBA in finance from Hofstra University.

Ken Woo has over 20 years of experience in the information technology industry, including nine in the telecommunications industry. He has is currently the director of information technology and facilities for Northwestern University School of Professional Studies, and his current responsibilities include all faculty, student and administrative computing needs, user support for computing and facilities and all classroom audio-visual technologies for the School of Professional Studies classrooms. He is FEMA certified through the Emergency Management Institute in the categories of: Incident Command Center; Incident Command Systems (ICS) for Higher Education; ICS for Single Resources & Initial Action Incident; and National Incident Management System (NIMS). He received his Doctorate Degree from Benedictine University in Organizational Change and Higher Education, an M.B.A. from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, a M.S. in Computer Science with a concentration in Telecommunications from DePaul University, and a BS in Computer Science from Loyola University Chicago.