Date: 2018/05/03

GFC MSU graduates its first class of computer programming students

Director of computer technology, Steve Robinett, assisting one of the graduates of the first computer programming class.

Great Falls—This Saturday, May 5, the first class of computer programming students at Great Falls College MSU will walk across the stage at commencement and receive their diplomas.

In 2016, IT leaders and businesses from the area came together at Great Falls College MSU to discuss the need for computer programming professionals in our community.

"The demand was clearly there," said Steve Robinett, department chair of computer technology at Great Falls College MSU.

The program teaches students the skills needed to thrive as a computer programmer and to also work as a systems analyst.

One of the graduates of this inaugural class is Jason Valledor, who started in computer programming at Great Falls College MSU after 12 years in the Air Force.Jason Valledor

Throughout his career in the Air Force, Valledor deployed four times to Iraq. At the time of his separation from the military, Valledor was a Staff Sergeant who served as his unit's security manager and oversaw information security training and was responsible for his unit's base network access.

In addition to his responsibilities in the military, Valledor always had a knack for technology. Since he was young he showed interest and the ability to understand concepts.

Valledor's childhood and his military work in information security eventually drew him to the computer programming degree at Great Falls College MSU.

"As soon as classes started, I knew that I had found my calling in computer programming," said Valledor.

Most of the students who come to Great Falls College MSU and start in computer programming have some understanding of the program but bring little or no experience. Those who excel are the students who are eager to learn and develop new skills and adapt well to ever changing technology.

In addition to teaching the technical aspects of computer programming, Robinett also stresses the importance of teaching the human factor. The class works together to identify both the good and the bad within programming and web design.

"It's incredibly important for students to recognize trends, flow, ease of use and what does and does not work," Robinett said.

Over the course of the two-year computer programming degree students learn how to design functional web pages using HTML, CSS and Javascript. They also learn how to understand and write programming languages such as Python, Java and PHP. To tie it all together, students also learn how to work with relational databases like Oracle and MySQL that store and retrieve data.

To be a successful programmer, students must be comfortable creating and implementing web based portals that create ease of use for the end user.

In addition to classroom learning, Valledor pursued on-the-job learning through an internship with D.A. Davidson Companies.

Through his internship, Valledor worked to support network security, conducted malware analysis and spam filtering.

"The internship gave me incredible insight into the operational side of my computer programming degree," said Valledor.

When asked how the computer programming program will help him moving forward, Valledor said "technology changes almost every day. Through this program I have learned many of the technical skills that I need for my next step."

When Valledor and his classmates walk across the stage on May 5, they will become the first to graduate with an Associate of Applied Science in computer programming.

Saturday will be particularly special for Robinett, who's been with the program from the beginning.

"After two years of hard work we get to celebrate the first graduating class of computer programming students," Robinett said.

Commencement will take place at 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 5, in the McLaughlin Center at the University of Providence, which is located one block north of Great Falls College MSU at 1301 20th Street S.

For more information about computer programming or to apply to the program, contact the Admissions office at Great Falls College MSU by visiting admissions.gfcmsu.edu, or call (406)268.3700.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Lewis Card
Executive Director—Development, Communications and Marketing
Phone: (406)771.4412, Email: lewis.card@gfcmsu.edu


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