Faisal Akkawi is the Executive Director of Information Systems Programs at Northwestern University School of Professional Studies. He holds a doctorate in computer science and a master's degree in electrical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology. Akkawi is an experienced academic practitioner whose leadership and strategic planning skills have allowed for the mentoring of fellow faculty members and undergraduate and graduate students. He is recognized as an innovative thought leader amongst peers in the planning and execution of duties including curriculum development, faculty and course scheduling, faculty and student recruitment, and budgetary development. Akkawi is continuously performing research in cutting-edge and thought-provoking fields including knowledge management, concurrent object-oriented software systems, aspect-oriented technology, and the evolution of technological education.
FA: My goal as an instructor is to match the topic to the class, rather than match the class to my topic. If a student says, "I do this differently at my company," we stop and discuss that student's experience and apply it to what I'm teaching.
Q: Are many students industry professionals?
FA: Yes, and that distinguishes this program. In fact, our students develop a tremendously valuable network through MSIS. I have seen quite a few students be hired by one of their classmates or instructors.
Q: How would you describe this program to someone who is considering a degree in information systems?
FA: The MSIS is a state-of-the-art degree that recognizes market needs, as demonstrated by the fact that we are now engaged in our second curriculum revision in two years! It is a program designed primarily for working professionals who seek a hands-on, laboratory-based experience that will broaden and deepen their knowledge of new and emerging IT. The vast majority of our faculty members are industry leaders — the best at what they do. Classes are offered on nights and weekends, which allows the program to be completed as quickly as one-and-a-half years — although it is flexible enough for students to take up to five years for completion.
Q: Who should apply?
FA: Technology is part of every aspect of our lives today. This program fits people who want to understand how to communicate with technology, people who want to advance their careers in technology and those who want to switch careers. If you are a doctor who wants to use technology to analyze data, this program will help you. If you are a manager or CEO who is integrating technology into your company, this degree is for you. If you are in IT and want to know what's new in the field, this is the program. These are just a few examples — MSIS attracts a wide range of professionals.