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Program Faculty

Information Systems

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.

Kayed Akkawi

Kayed Akkawi

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Currently teaching:
Object-Oriented Programming

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.

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.

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.

Christopher Hield

Christopher Hield

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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.

Nebiyou Kedir is Director of Application Development at Symphony Asset Management (Nuveen Investments Subsidiary Hedge Fund) in San Francisco, CA. Kedir is an electrical engineer with masters in information systems management whose current responsibilities include application development team leadership and mentorship, project prioritization and management, hands-on software development and application lifecycle management, helpdesk triage/task prioritization, hands-on support and maintenance of systems and processes, business and systems analysis/design, stakeholder communication and vendor collaboration on emerging technologies and solutions like Blockchain /Machine Learning/Bots. Kedir has instructed Microsoft Official Curriculum courses on database development and database administration as well as application development and web design courses. Kedir was also an adjunct instructor for OOAD using C++ and UML.

Russell Roberson

Email Russell Roberson

Currently teaching:
Foundations of Leadership

Russell Roberson is vice president of quality and regulatory affairs for a global medical company, assuring that products and services are designed, manufactured, distributed, and serviced properly. He has responsibility for an extensive portfolio of healthcare software products in both medical (pharmacy, imaging, electronic medical records, and prescription management products) and nonmedical (financial and data-privacy products) device areas affected by global regulation. Roberson is a frequent speaker at global conferences on such topics as software design processes, regulatory affairs, and quality management systems. A licensed professional engineer, he holds professional certifications in engineering, auditing, and management; is active in several professional societies; and sits on his college fraternity’s national board of trustees. Among his publications are two books on leadership and cancer management. Roberson has a doctorate in business administration and management, an MBA degree, and a MS in mechanical engineering.

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.

Kevin Vaccaro has 25+ years’ experience working in Information Technology. He has also been teaching various topics in IT ranging from service and repair to Cybersecurity for 20+ years. He is a full time faculty member at Moraine Valley Community College and an adjunct Industry Professor at Illinois Institute of Technology. He has written several articles on digital forensics for eforensics magazine. Kevin holds a MS in Information Technology from Illinois Institute of Technology and several industry certifications including CISSP and CEH and also is an authorized trainer.

Mr. Waas is the Executive Director of the GoodTogether philanthropic initiative at Sage Sustainnable Electronics with a focus on narrowing the digital divide.

Mr. Waas was the Chairman & CEO of the Illinois Technology Foundation (ITF). ITF was a not-for-profit organization that focused on keeping graduating students in Illinois and working with k-12 students encouraging them to pursue a career in technology.

He started his career at Grumman Data Systems Corporation and held various management positions in strategic planning, finance and service management.

Mr. Waas was Senior Vice President of Service and Support at Vanstar Corporation, a $2.5 billion dollar system integrator. At Vanstar, Mr. Waas headed the $250 million service organization.

Mr. Waas was Vice President of Value Added Services at Dell Computer Corporation. He was responsible for a $750 million dollar division of Dell, responsible for the sale and delivery of software, peripherals, and system integration services.

He is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University, the Harvard Extension School and the Morris Graduate School of Management.

Mr. Waas also serves on the IT advisory councils for St. Petersburg College and the Hillsborough Community College.

He is a member of the board and chair of the programs and marketing for the Society for Information Management Tampa Bay Chapter.

Mr. Waas was a co-founder of the Service Section of CompTIA and was a member of the Board and Chairman of the association from 1995-1997.
Mr. Waas holds a BBA in accounting and an MBA in finance from Hofstra University.

He resides in St. Petersburg, Florida.


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