Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)

Community College of Allegheny County

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is Computer and Information Technology?

Computers and networks have become essential in most segments of our society and enable us to improve the quality of our lives and to increase our productivity. Their use has resulted in significant advances in medicine, science, education, business, industry and government. Computer and information technology incorporates the study of information structure and processing in all its varied forms. The term Information Technology (IT) is an "umbrella" term that encompasses Information Systems, Information Science and Computer Science.

Q: What is the difference between Information Systems, Information Science, and Computer Science?

  • Both Information Systems and Computer Science require a common subset of technical computing knowledge.
  • Information Systems is the study of what computers can do, how they can be applied, and how to obtain practical computing solutions in business environments. Since the context for Information Systems is an organization, students also typically need to develop skills to solve business problems in functional areas such as accounting, finance, marketing and management. Systems analysis in the context of applied computing is a fundamental focus of this discipline.
  • The discipline includes the acquisition, deployment and management of Information Technology resources and services as well as the development of the IT infrastructure to support the organization process. This includes computers and communications; development of computer systems and supporting users in the use of new technology. There is a high demand for individuals with a combined knowledge of applied computing, computer applications and business.
  • A number of colleges have programs identified as Information Science. These programs may denote a more general computing emphasis that is not directly tied to business organizational use.
  • Computer Science focuses on the theory and practice of computing.  Some important topics covered include data structures, algorithms, computer architecture and software engineering. The development of quality software is a fundamental focus of this discipline. There is a high demand for individuals who possess the technical skills to develop software systems.

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Q: I have very little experience in using a computer – essentially, I know how to turn it on and surf the Net. Is this enough knowledge to start a CIT program?

All CIT degree and certification programs assume a comfort level with using computers in a Windows environment. Students have this background from a variety of sources. You should be comfortable in doing the following types of computer tasks:

  1. Use a mouse and keyboard effectively;
  2. Use a Windows type application, such as a word processor or other editor program, that uses common Windows icons and terminology, including copying and pasting with the clipboard;
  3. Be able to manage your files, using Windows Explorer or similar file manager. This includes running programs, finding files and documents, creating folders/directories to organize your data, copying files and making backups; and
  4. Be familiar with using a Browser to view Web pages.

This represents prerequisite knowledge for CIT-111 and CIT-115, the foundation courses for the CIT curriculum. If you don't have these skills, CCAC offers a one-credit pass/fail course entitled CIT-600 Introduction to Windows, which covers the basic user interface. CCAC also offers a three-credit computer literacy course entitled CIT-100 Computer Fundamentals & Applications, which goes into more depth with using Windows applications.

Q: I want to take an introductory programming course. Where should I start?

CIT-111 is an introduction to programming, using Java programming language as a vehicle.

Q: I have some previous experience with programming (COBOL or Fortran or Pascal or Visual Basic) and am interested in taking CIT-130 Object-Oriented Programming: Java. Can I take this course

You should take CIT Professional Certification equivalency page. Some CIT courses have credit-by-exams if you feel you have certain knowledge but do not hold a particular certification credential. Please see a CIT Department Head (listed on the Faculty pages) to see if an exam is available for a CIT course.

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