Dr. Bernard Sharum, core faculty member in Capella University’s School of Business and Technology, was recently awarded Capella’s Harold Abel Award for Distinguished Faculty, which recognizes his extensive contributions to Capella, its faculty, and its students. In this interview, he talks about his work and interests.
Q. Please share a bit about your background and how you came to Capella.
A. My career started in math and computing, and now it’s more computers and less math. I’ve worked both for the Department of Defense and in private practice as a consultant and an academic.
Technically, my undergrad studies led to me being an applied mathematician. But as computers were being developed, I found I loved when math and computing were combined, like in computer simulations. I’ve done both hands-on development and management, and now I teach IT management at Capella.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
A. I most enjoy the very fact that I’m teaching, reaching into the library, and reading new literature. I’m really excited about our new Doctor of Information Technology programs. I wrote a course for it on IT Management, and I love mentoring IT researchers in the PhD program.
Q. Why did you go into your field?
A. I initially wanted to study mathematics, but computers were starting to evolve and become more important. At the time I did my undergrad, there were no computer science degrees. You needed a math degree to get to computers. I love math, but really wanted to work with computers, too. I still love both math and computers, even though most of my work today is with computers.
Q. What industry trends are you seeing that will affect professionals in the next few years?
A. In the last millennium, things moved fast, but now it’s even faster. Home computers are becoming increasingly sophisticated machines. There’s ubiquitous wireless broadband access, and more digital libraries with cloud computing. It’s moving almost faster than we can keep up with it.
I also think that quantum computing is the future, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and the new hybrid direction of swarm intelligence. I think we’ll see the day when there will be human implants with AI chips and broadband access.
Q. What is the single biggest challenge facing your field right now?
A. Difficulties developing software impenetrable to hackers. Information security is a huge issue. There are so many compromises being made, and so many smart people figuring out how to work around them.
Q. How do you stay on top of what employers are looking for? How do you keep your industry skills and knowledge up to date?
A. I stay current with many publications through materials at the Capella Library. I monitor LinkedIn, where you can find all the leading organizations in the field and constantly updated news about research. I also stay involved with various professional organizations.
Q. Tell us about winning the Harold Abel award.
A. It’s always an honor to receive an award like this. It’s humbling and appreciated. All my colleagues are doing what I’m doing—teaching, sharing ideas, conducting research. We are all working to get better.
Q. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
A. I was told to study mathematics. Also, when an undergrad professor introduced me to E.T. Bell’s book Mathematics: Queen and Servant of Science. It really introduced me to all the ways math fits into other disciplines.
Q. What do you like to do when you’re not working?
A. Fast-paced walking with my son. It’s a good way to stay healthy and feel good.
Q. Coffee, tea, or soda?
A. Starbucks mocha, and way too many of them.
Learn more about Capella’s Doctor of Information Technology (DIT) degree programs: