Carnegie Mellon University

on_humanity.pngDietrich College's Monthly Podcast

Episode 4

Scheines and Quesenberry

Episode 4: Diversifying Tech Talent with Jeria Quesenberry

Jeria Quesenberry discusses her work on global diversity and inclusion issues in tech fields. She also highlights the Information Systems Program’s project-based courses for social good, which she describes as “the jewels in our crown.”


Full Episode


[Music Playing]

Richard Scheines: Welcome, Jeria. My guest is Jeria Quesenberry, who is an associate teaching professor in the Department of Information Systems. And we just found out that the Department of Information Systems, in U.S. News World & Report, was ranked number one world in world, ahead of MIT. So congratulations, and welcome, Jeria.

Jeria Quesenberry: Yay. Thank you. Yes, we're very excited to get that news.

Richard Scheines: Before we start out, I just wanted to give people a very brief sense of the history of information systems in the college. The program was started as part of the Social and Decision Sciences Department. And it became so popular so quickly in the late – early and late 1990s that my predecessor, John Lehoczky, split information systems off into its own unit. And Randy Weinberg was the head of that unit for 18 or 19 years.

Recently, Joe Mertz took over. And the unit has thrived in every way possible. Their program is wonderful. Their professors are great. And the students are happy.

Jeria Quesenberry: Well, thank you, Richard. And thank you, too – everything you've done as dean, supporting the program, has been so wonderful and much appreciated.

Richard Scheines: It's been our pleasure. So let me start and ask you something about the kind of research that you do. We have a little bit of an unusual system in Dietrich. People who are on a teaching track, their focus is on the educational mission. But their other focus is on research, and we expect them all to do good research. And you're a great example of someone who has done it. And your research has been on what women face when they're in computer science, when they're in technical fields like information systems. So maybe you could give us a brief primer on what you have looked at and what you have found?

Jeria Quesenberry: Yeah. Thank you. So like you mentioned, my work centers on studying human capital issues, workforce issues, within the computing field. And specifically, I've looked at underrepresented groups and women and minorities, reasons why they're attracted to the computing profession, and more commonly, reasons why they're not. So my early work, when I was back in graduate school, was the study of women in the profession currently, and looking in at individual differences, so recognizing that it's not a woman's innate abilities or inabilities to do this kind of work, but it's their social shaping coupled with their individual preferences to pursue a career in that field.

And then since joining Carnegie Mellon, I was really excited to have this role on teaching track because it allows me to continue to do my research, but in a way that has a flare of outreach to it, as well, so really making an impact in our university community, but in a larger global community, as well. So continue to study. We've done a lot of work with students from historically black colleges and universities, inviting them to Carnegie Mellon, offering programs to help them with IS or information systems-related skills, but then also helping to promote and open up pathways for them to enter the field. And I've done some work looking at our undergraduate students here at Carnegie Mellon. And just most recently, I'm finishing a book which I'm co-authoring with Carol Frieze, who's in the School of Computer Science, looking at global views of women in computing. Because the underrepresentation of women in this field isn't the same everywhere, that in fact, you see a lot of differences based upon cultural background. And there are many countries in the world where women are represented at the same levels or almost at the same level as men in the field, so –

Richard Scheines: Can you give me an example of such a country?

Jeria Quesenberry: Absolutely. Yeah. There are several. And they're probably not countries you would guess. Malaysia is almost 50-50 parity. Other countries that are having some success attracting women into the field are – Turkey is another one, Romania in Eastern Europe. So not really what may come to mind, like a Western country or a Western European country, but –

Richard Scheines: But so tell me a little bit about why you think Malaysia has succeeded in attracting more women to the field.

Jeria Quesenberry: Great question. So the book is an edited volume. And the theme that runs through them all is looking at ways in which culture shapes representation. And in the example of Malaysia, what we have found is there's a perception about jobs that are sort of appealing for women versus men. And office work is clean and safe. And in Malaysia, IT work, much of that's in the office. And so it seems to be a career that attracts females for that reason.

Richard Scheines: Because office work is perceived to be safe and this is a good sort of office work?

Jeria Quesenberry: Mm-hmm. Right. And what's interesting, as well – if you look historically even here in the United States, in the late '80s/early '90s, really before the dot-com boom, women were represented in the computing industry more than they are today. So as that shift, where technology became so much more of a cornerstone of industry and competitiveness, you see more men begin to enter the field than women. And that's something we haven't recovered from since.

Richard Scheines: I never knew that.

Jeria Quesenberry: Mm-hmm.

Richard Scheines: What about Romania?

Jeria Quesenberry: Yeah. So Romania – actually, in Eastern Europe, some of the research points to Communist or post-Communist societies encouraging everyone to work. The idea of a stay-at-home mom maybe is more of a luxury, whereas two incomes are necessary. So Romania is an example where there is a need for women to fill these professions. But I don't wanna generalize and say that's the case across all of Eastern Europe, because that's not the sense in the Czech Republic and, to an extent, in Russia, as well. So we have another chapter on Russia that delves a little deeper into their culture and their background, looking at women in computing, as well.

Richard Scheines: Talk a little bit about the book you did with Carol Frieze previously, which was called, I think, “Kicking Butt in Computer Science: Women in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University.” So what did you find about what's happened in computer science here?

Jeria Quesenberry: Mm-hmm. It's a really great story that's happened here at Carnegie Mellon, and a positive story, with what's been a happy outcome. Nationally in the United States, women earn somewhere around the high teens, not quite 20 percent of undergraduate degrees in computer science. But at Carnegie Mellon, persistent and sustained over the last decade, women are earning almost half of the computer science degrees. The enrollments are coming in right at half. What they earn is just under. And that's due in part to the number of transfer students that are coming in. So it's a real success story.

Those results have not come by accident or by small effort. Those results have come from decades of hard work and dedication. Many, many years ago Lenore Blum and Carol Frieze worked to form Women@SCS, which is an outreach effort in the college that was hoping to promote opportunities for female students. They also worked to shift some of the admission requirements for first-year students, so not looking to admit students that had previous programming experience, but admit students who showed potential to achieve in programming. So that was some of the early foundational work, and a lot of administrative support from the deans and the president.

I started working with Carol – oh, not quite 15 years ago, little over a decade ago. And my role in our collaboration has been more on the research side. So Carol leads the initiative with Women@SCS and now SCS4ALL. And I've kind of been behind the scenes, helping to conduct interviews, do surveys with the students, and then come at it with some theoretical underpinnings to do some research to look at how these interventions are helping and where more effort can be devoted to continue to sustain the – those outcomes.

Richard Scheines: So the intervention that you think might've been very successful was not necessarily having people know what programming was all about when they got here, but support them when they got here.

Jeria Quesenberry: Mm-hmm.

Richard Scheines: – right? – to learn it and to be okay to catch up, in some sense. How is that done? Is that – is that an accurate representation of what happened?

Jeria Quesenberry: Yep. That's an accurate representation of what happened. Not having a requirement that a student, for instance, completed or earned a certain score on an advanced placement exam in computer science, not expecting that a student would've taken a computer science course or some type of programming course in high school? Because not all high schools offer those types of courses or opportunities and not all young female students are exposed to them or are interested in them. So instead, shifting the focus to say, well, how did this student do in math, for instance, or what –

Richard Scheines: In high school?

Jeria Quesenberry: In high school. Correct. What type of leadership opportunities did they participate in in high school, and using those as indicators of success as opposed to having the tangible skill day one.

Richard Scheines: So that's fascinating because I think there's a lot of pressure – I mean, today, I know there's a lot of pressure in doing admissions, to take only students who are super, super successful on board scores and then have the AP courses everywhere you can imagine. So it takes a little guts – did it take a lot of guts for them – was there pushback for them to actually relax the admission criteria in that way or change them?

Jeria Quesenberry: I – my sense is that there was not a lot of pushback.

Richard Scheines: So good for them.

Jeria Quesenberry: It was something that the administration and the faculty embraced. I will say it's unique to Carnegie Mellon. A lot of other institutions looking to be more inclusive have changed the curriculum to make it “more pink” or make it more friendly, which sometimes can be code for making it easier. And that is not the path that Carnegie Mellon has taken. If anything, the curriculum has become more theoretical, more challenging. So it's raising the water and knowing that if you give the opportunity to a wider student population, they can rise up with it. It's – to attract more students doesn't mean you need to change the curriculum to fit them.

Richard Scheines: That's so interesting. In our world in Dietrich, we have a wide variety of majors. Some of them are very technical, like information systems or statistics, stats/ML. And our applicants are so high-achieving now, in terms of their board scores and their grades and their AP scores, that we often wonder if we're missing a group of students who are, in some sense, diamonds in the rough, and should we admit more who don't necessarily look the same on the blue-chip scores and then do more to nurture them while they're here? And maybe this is a lesson that we could actually do that.

Jeria Quesenberry: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And as a teaching professor, and I teach our first required information systems course, I see this all the time in the classroom. Students come in with a lot of deep experience in technical topics. And then their classmates may have none, if any, experience. So how do we try to get everyone relatively close to the same page with regard to those skills? But it's attainable. We can do that. And then the conversation and the richness that comes out in the critical thinking concepts in the classroom, I think, are really, really exciting.

Richard Scheines: Great. Well, let me change the topic just slightly. It's down the same line. But you've written a recent paper on mitigating unconscious bias on campus. And I'm fascinated by that.

Because we all know it's present. We all know we have it. And yet it's very difficult to find our way out of it. And so what have you learned about how to do it that actually might work?

Jeria Quesenberry: That is –

Richard Scheines: First of all, tell us, what is unconscious bias, for those of – who are listening that don't really have ready access to that term?

Jeria Quesenberry: Unconscious bias is kind of a fancy phrase that basically means as a human, our brain allows us to process complex information that we're receiving all the time around us in a quick and easy way so that we can devote our attention to more nuanced things. So for instance, we may see a red light and immediately, we just know that means “stop” or “caution.” So unconscious bias can become problematic when we're interacting with humans if we're allowing some of that kind of internal thought process to occur without a gut check. For instance, I remember probably about five years ago, I was riding on an airplane with my daughter, who was only three years old at the time. And there was a delay in taking off.

And Ella said to me, “What do you think's happening with the pilot?” And I said, “Well, I don't know. Maybe he's just checking the system.” And Ella said, “Well, how do you know it's a he? Maybe it's a she.”

Richard Scheines: Gotcha.

Jeria Quesenberry: Got me, right? So that was an example of my unconscious bias, just assuming the pilot was a male because most pilots tend to be male, but that's not the case. So our biases can help process complex information quickly.

Richard Scheines: They're necessary –

Jeria Quesenberry: They're necessary.

Richard Scheines: – to function in the world.

Jeria Quesenberry: Exactly. It just becomes problematic if we rely on those in a way that is more in terms of a stereotype. So that's unconscious bias. The paper that you mentioned was presented at a conference on equity as a piece of the computer science and education special group. And this was based upon an intervention that's been occurring here at Carnegie Mellon that uses Google's model of unconscious bias training.

If you're hired into Google, you have to go through this curriculum, particularly as it relates to hiring and promotion. So that model was tailored, and then piloted here on campus with faculty, staff, graduate students and undergraduate students. It was met with some positive outcomes. And that paper kinda summarized those takeaways.

Richard Scheines: What sort of outcomes ensued that were positive, that you could show?

Jeria Quesenberry: To show – so we did a small pre- and post-survey. And what we were able to find is that the self-reported understanding of unconscious bias improved. But also, because the workshop is hands-on, it helped the participants understand how this impacts their own professional lives or career. So it gave them some tangible language to use to combat conscious bias if they saw it happening, perhaps in the classroom or on campus, and what that might mean for them as they go forward.

Richard Scheines: So I've heard – or, I should say, some people say that once you become aware of unconscious bias and you've been trained to recognize it and perhaps overcome it, then sometimes the result can be counterintuitive. You can give yourself permission to actually do something that's biased because you can't be now vulnerable because you've learned how to overcome your own bias. Is that true?

Jeria Quesenberry: I –

Richard Scheines: Is that a worry?

Jeria Quesenberry: Yes, absolutely. I think it's something that we have to think about and keep in the forefront all the time. I was just called out by a student recently. We were doing our final presentations for a capstone project course. And I walked up to a team of my students. It's three women.

And I said to them, “Don't you three look nice today?” And one of them stopped me and said, “Prof Q, you should tell us we look smart today. Don't tell us we look nice.” And I said, “You know what? You are right. You look smart today, and you're going to give a great presentation.”

So absolutely. I don't think we can just kind of say, “We checked that box. We finished this training. We're done.” It's something that we all have to live with and build into our culture.

Richard Scheines: Well, are there efforts afoot to really close the loop? I mean, I just think this is an extremely complicated problem, so I don't think it's going to be easy to close the loop. But what I mean by that is if we have training that we think actually helps you recognize, overcome, et cetera, unconscious bias, what we hope is that in the process of hiring, recruiting, retaining, et cetera, women or underrepresented minorities, that we do better.

Jeria Quesenberry: Mm-hmm.

Richard Scheines: Right? And so what I'd like to know is, is there any evidence that we are actually doing better and is there evidence that doing unconscious bias removal will really help us get better? Or are we pretty far away from closing that loop all the way still

Jeria Quesenberry: I think we have aspirations, but we're not there yet. That's probably something we could focus on more. Yeah.

Richard Scheines: So let me ask you a question about closing the loop. Even if we have the kind of information that shows us we're biased and we get help in overcoming our bias, that doesn't mean that in hiring, retention, promotion, that we're still going to necessarily improve or move the needle. So are we getting closer to that? Are we actually making progress in the closing the loop, final outcome piece of the puzzle here? Or do we still have a long way to go?

Jeria Quesenberry: I think we're beginning to close the loop, but there's still a lot of opportunity left for us to address and face some of the challenges. These individual interventions might help at a pause point, but they're not necessarily sustaining. So we have to think about ways in which we can really ingrain this individually, but then also institutionalize it, as well. So are there policies and practices that can help to mitigate this unconscious bias in the long-term? I think that's an area that we should begin to look for more work in that space.

Richard Scheines: So after all this good research, and I'm very happy people like you are doing it, what's your view of how we're moving as an institution? I know there's lots of discussion in the central administration, among the deans, among the department heads, about trying to be more active – proactive in dealing with all these sorts of issues. Do you see us, in the future, making progress? Do you see us getting better? Do – what sort of – what sense do you have of where this is going?

Jeria Quesenberry: Yes. I see Carnegie Mellon continuing to thrive and excel. We're a university that's doing a really great job at inclusion. And we're continuing to focus on the areas where we can build and be even better. So I see a lot of potential and promise on the horizon. I was just in a meeting this morning with some faculty and staff in our program. And we're trying to think about how we can continue to foster a climate and a culture in our program that benefits everyone, our female students, our male students, our students of color, looking for those interventions and places in which we can do even better.

Richard Scheines: Okay. Let me change the topic and ask you something about how you came to be a professor. So tell us your story. Everyone has a different story and I find them all interesting. We're all these very specialized nerds of a certain type enjoying our little world. But tell me how you became an academic.

Jeria Quesenberry: So I think meta-comment before I share my background is that I've never had any of this figured out. I really think I've ended up in this position because of a series of opportunities that I just took a turn or took advantage of. It's kind of like those old books that you would read, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” and then somehow you end up at the end point. So I was not the kind of person that had it figured out early on. And we moved a lot growing up because of my father's career. So in the '90s – I'll date myself now – I applied to one university. It was the university by my parents' house, 'cause we'd just moved to northern Virginia.

So I ended up going to George Mason University. And when I moved in my dorm, there was probably about 60 women, and only two women had a computer. So I was one of the students with a computer. But I also had a printer. The other student didn't. And very, very early on, I knew how to set up an e-mail account. I knew how to work a word processor because my father worked in IT.

And the other female students on my dorm started coming down to ask me questions. “How do I create an e-mail account,” “What is a dial-up modem,” "How do I make this file print?" things that are very basic today, but back in the mid-'90s were pretty sophisticated. And I found that I really liked teaching people how to do stuff with a computer. It wasn't about doing the stuff. It was teaching someone how to do the stuff. So I decided to become an information systems major. It was management information systems in my case.

And when I graduated in the late '90s, again, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do, but I wanted to help people. So I took a position at a consulting firm. And I spent three years in the federal government practice. So I was with several Department of Defense clients, helping them to do things, which I found very rewarding, felt like I was giving back to my country. But I also felt a little underwhelmed in that I didn't know if my work was making an impact.

So in full disclosure, I met this dreamy guy on a ski trip in Pennsylvania. It worked out. We got married. But at the time, we had dated long distance. And he said, “Why don't you move to Pennsylvania?” And –

Richard Scheines: You were in DC?

Jeria Quesenberry: I was in DC. He was in central Pennsylvania. And there's really no IT consulting hotbed in central PA. So I knew I wanted to eventually go into academia. And I thought, “Why not pursue my graduate degree now?” So I quit my job. I moved to rural Pennsylvania. And I started at Penn State, which is when I began looking at these issues of women and computing and kinda preparing to go into more of a teaching profession.

Richard Scheines: Well, now, go back to something that you just said about you knew you always wanted to go into academia. Because you had gone to a consulting firm, which I take it paid you reasonably well. And when you go into Ph.D. programs, you don't get paid reasonably well. So you had to take a big cut in income. And professors don't make a huge amount of money, right? What was the – what was the notion that gave you the confidence to say, “Yes, I'm gonna be an academic?”

Jeria Quesenberry: Yeah. That was very difficult. Because at the time, I was making quite a bit of money. And the graduate school stipend was probably 20 percent of that. So I had to go back on a –

Richard Scheines: That's a pay cut.

Jeria Quesenberry: – financial diet. Yes. But I knew that in the long term, the short-term sacrifices would pay off. So I had a small stipend in graduate school, which helped make ends meet. And then you had some support from – we – my husband and I became married so – we got married, I mean. So he and I – that helped a lot, share the financial burden.

Richard Scheines: And he was supportive of your becoming an academic, I take it?

Jeria Quesenberry: He was, yes, absolutely.

Richard Scheines: And then how did you come to Carnegie Mellon? How did that happen?

Jeria Quesenberry: So I was –

Richard Scheines: Our good luck.

Jeria Quesenberry: Thank you. I was at Penn State for five years. And looking at the job market, I wanted to find a position where I could really have an impact in the classroom. And I also, secondly, wanted to be able to control what I did with my research. Because a lot of the faculty positions in IS are in a business school. And a lot of times, the research topics are driven by the grant money. And I wanted a little more academic freedom than that.

So I cast a pretty wide net. My husband, on the other hand, did not cast a wide net. He said, “We can only go somewhere where you can ski within an hour's drive and have Yuengling beer on tap.” So –

Richard Scheines: That's – those are tough conditions.

Jeria Quesenberry: So that kind of limited where we would look. I found the position at Carnegie Mellon. And I just applied on a whim, hoping. And everything worked out.

Richard Scheines: So far, so good?

Jeria Quesenberry: So far, so good.

Richard Scheines: And I should tell the story that you give me a heart attack a few years ago when you came and you said, “I don't think I can continue working because we need to move to Altoona.” And I said, “No, no. We have to find a way to teleport you here reasonably.” But you have been able to manage the commute. You're living in – near Altoona?

Jeria Quesenberry: Mm-hmm. Yes.

Richard Scheines: And how long is your commute and how do you manage that?

Jeria Quesenberry: Well, first –

Richard Scheines: Podcasts?

Jeria Quesenberry: – thank you, Richard, for allowing me to make this work. So Altoona is about two hours from Pittsburgh. I commute a few days a week, back and forth. And then all of my other work, I do virtually, which is really interesting in that I'm teaching a course right now on global collaboration and in many ways, I'm doing what I'm teaching. So it's –

Richard Scheines: Because you're working virtually from afar.

Jeria Quesenberry: Exactly.

Richard Scheines: _____ two hours is as far as 12 hours if it turns out to be.

Jeria Quesenberry: Exactly.

Richard Scheines: Yeah. Well, where do you see that going? That's an interesting question to ask. I'm often in meetings in which people are calling in. That doesn't work very well because when people are calling in and you can't see their face and there's a bunch of them – some of them are on e-mail. They're not really paying attention. And if you are actually able to see them in video, that sometimes works well but it sometimes doesn't.

Sometimes the connection is not good. You can't hear them properly. It really does feel like there's a big opportunity to make a reliable, easy to work collaborative virtually. How are we doing in that space?

Jeria Quesenberry: Mm-hmm. Well, I believe the technology has gotten better than where it was even when I joined back in 2007. Video conference wasn't possible like it is today. It's better. But nothing replicates face-to-face interaction.

So when I'm on campus, I try to load up with as many meetings as possible and then leave the days I'm at home to do content work. That's not always a hundred percent feasible, especially if my students are partnering with a community member who's not on campus. Or we have our campus in Qatar, so collaborating with faculty there, that's not possible. But I find we can replicate some of the elements of face-to-face interaction. Maybe we have a little social conversation in the beginning of a video chat or starting with video and then turning video off to just have a better-quality audio signal – little tips like that sometimes help, I think, manage the distance. But it's a challenge.

Richard Scheines: Okay. Let me ask a question about the teaching you do in the Information Systems Department. So the education the students get is broad and wonderful and deep in the subject. And one of the distinctive features of this program is the project course. You have clients from all over, from the city, from even abroad sometimes. And you have a great reputation for really doing a wonderful job in the project course. Tell us a little bit about how that works, your experiences in it, and what you think is interesting.

Jeria Quesenberry: The project courses in the Information Systems Program, I think, are the jewels in our crown. They're the course that our students come in looking forward to and then when they're in that course, really have a positive experience. The one project course is a service learning course. And by that, I mean small teams of students are partnered with a real company, nonprofit in the community to solve some type of problem. There's a lot of diversity in that.

So I've had teams work with humane society here locally, where they have built applications to help manage donations, help to identify fosters for animals in need. I've had a team of students collaborate with a nonprofit here in Pittsburgh that tries to give opportunities to disadvantaged youth. And it just so happens to be run by a former Steeler, Charlie Batch. So that's pretty cool, to be able to build an application that supports their major fundraising efforts. It's really endless. And it's kinda cool, as a technology geek, to be able to use your skills and help students to build skills while they're giving back to animals and football and children and various social good initiatives. And our list is pretty extensive. I think last year, we partnered with 30 different organizations in the community [crosstalk].

Richard Scheines: And the students just love it. And when the students actually find what they're doing in a college course helps something in the community, I think they light up in just the right way. It's a win-win-win. Yeah.

Jeria Quesenberry: Absolutely. Yeah. The learning experience is amazing. But also, for them to be able to make an impact and see how they're able to help an organization that otherwise could not afford their talent is pretty awesome.

Richard Scheines: Yep. And we're taking advantage of that in the summer internship program, as well, because the students turn out to be so valuable to people in the community that's it's just been great. What other things about the project course do you think make it distinctive and what about it has been fun teaching?

Jeria Quesenberry: So I think what makes it the most distinctive experience is that it's real. This is not reading a textbook. This is not learning from a case example that happened previously. You're in it. And this is the students' project. And we tell them that from day one. As faculty, we're advisors to help guide and mentor, but they have a lot of ownership in this. And so –

Richard Scheines: They have to deliver?

Jeria Quesenberry: They have to deliver. And to come in and sit at a table with professionals, many of whom have been in their careers for decades, and be a leader and help walk them through this process of consulting – it's a great opportunity for someone who is very early in their career or perhaps just in their college career, to have the opportunity to do some cool stuff.

Richard Scheines: Learn that. Is there any problem in managing expectations among the clients? I taught the project course in human-computer interaction many, many years ago. And what I found in the first couple of iterations was that the clients really expected a fully commercial, production-value piece of software, which is not really gonna happen in 15 weeks with four or five students. So I really had to manage expectations. And once I did that, things were much, much better. Is it the same problem in IS? Or are the students that good, that they can just deliver something productive and commercial anyway?

Jeria Quesenberry: No. That's absolutely the same problem one, because of preconceived notions that a client may have coming into it, but also, once they start to see some results, they want more. And they are hoping to get more and it's a limited timeline. So my director, Joe Mertz – this is his line, not my own. But we like to tell our community partners that these engagements are as if you're being given a free kitten. The kitten is free, but all the work and all the support that goes into having a kitten is something on them. So we like our community partners to kind of understand coming in that they'll have to take back whatever it is the students build –

Richard Scheines: They have to change the kitty litter.

Jeria Quesenberry: Exactly. Exactly. They'll have to change the kitty litter.

Richard Scheines: Tell me about how the alumni from the program are involved and how they come back to help.

Jeria Quesenberry: So our alumni are amazing. And they're always reaching out to be supportive of the program and the students. One nice example of alumni involvement is with our innovation project course. This is a course where students are not partnered with a real community client with a problem, but instead, they're asked to identify and solve a problem that they've experienced in their lives.

Richard Scheines: So they have to figure out the problem first –

Jeria Quesenberry: Exactly. They have to figure out the problem –

Richard Scheines: – then solve it.

Jeria Quesenberry: – and then develop the solution. And we've been really fortunate to partner with Deloitte, which is a global consulting firm. And they've brought back our alumni, now employed at Deloitte, to serve as advisers with the students. So each team will be assigned a dedicated advisor, whom they'll meet with sometimes face-to-face, sometimes virtually, every week, to demonstrate progress, elicit feedback, and really focus in on innovation. How do the teams and the students know that their project solutions are innovative, that they're really solving a problem for a real user? And then at the end of the term, it's exciting because we'll do an innovation showcase where the Deloitte team will sit in on their final presentations and then select winners of some of the innovation awards, with prizes and celebration.

Richard Scheines: And everybody likes winning prizes.

Jeria Quesenberry: Yes.

Richard Scheines: Well, thank you so much for coming in. It's been great to have you. I think the Information Systems Program is happy to have you. We're happy to have you. And it's a great, great moment for this program in the history of the – of the university. So thank you again for coming.

Jeria Quesenberry: Thank you for having me.

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