Home Blog Faculty Spotlight: Md. Tahmidul Islam Molla, Ph.D., on Marquette’s innovative career-changer path to an online computing degree

Faculty Spotlight: Md. Tahmidul Islam Molla, Ph.D., on Marquette’s innovative career-changer path to an online computing degree

December 14, 2022
Faculty spotlight image of Dr. Md. Tahmidul Islam Molla, Assistant Professor of Practice

“Nowadays you will hardly find an industry that hasn’t been touched by computer science,” says Marquette University Assistant Professor of Practice, Md. Tahmidul Islam Molla, Ph.D., explaining what he finds compelling about his area of work, “As our lives become more and more dependent on computers and technology, computer science is probably the most influential field that impacts our day-to-day life.”

Dr. Molla, who teaches both core and advanced-level courses in the Department of Computer Science, completed his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota in 2020 and previously worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Cornell University. He cites his research in these roles, which focused on developing novel devices for soft, flexible and wearable applications, as helping him realize the vast and practical applications of computer science as a discipline. This open and enthusiastic mindset serves him well as one of the instructors for the Foundations of Computing course which is aimed at career-changers coming to the Master of Science in Computer and Information Science program with undergraduate degrees outside of computing.

“Most of my students come from diverse backgrounds and have never taken a computer science course before and have very little idea about the field itself,” Dr. Molla explains. The 7-credit Foundations of Computing course gives career-changers an introduction to the field from both a professional and technical standpoint. Foundational topics are intermixed with study of software development which include an introduction to abstraction, algorithmic thinking, simulation and testing for computer-based problem-solving using higher-level programming languages. Students have the opportunity to program exercises using graphical user interfaces, database connections, parallel computing and interfaces to the World Wide Web. They also have the chance to gain experience using an interactive development environment, studying software development methodology and testing code, basic system administration, computer networking and operating system configuration. Dr. Molla says that it’s encouraging to witness students’ excitement at learning and using new skills, “The final project for the Foundations class allows students to build a web application from scratch using tools such as Flask, HTML, SQL and deploy it in a Linux server,” he says, “In most cases, this is the first time students see the real-life applications of a wide variety of computing tools they learned in the class.”

Choose Marquette for career transformation

“If you’re someone who’s thinking about getting into CIS from a different field, Marquette is the right place for you,” Dr. Molla says. While Marquette University does offer pathways for students with prior experience in computing and IT, its attentive professors and comprehensive curriculum make it a standout for professionals looking to pivot their careers. Previous career-changer students have found their way to the master’s program with undergraduate backgrounds in the areas such as accounting, administration of law enforcement, biochemistry, business administration, criminology, communication, geography, urban planning and others. The Foundations of Computing course aims to provide an excellent rapid entry to a professional master’s in computing and is designed for students who do not have the full breadth of knowledge acquired over years of undergraduate computing-related study. Once students complete the Foundations course, they’ll be able to enroll in courses of their choosing, shaping their experience to meet their interests and needs with topics like IT management, analytics, artificial intelligence, mobile computing, systems and software development and more.

Marquette also offers the Information Assurance and Cyber Defense (IACD) specialization to prepare students with skills to meet the nationwide demand for cybersecurity experts.1 The ICAD specialization, which is recognized by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security as an Academic Center of Excellence, includes courses on system administration, network design, database systems, software and computer security among others. The ICAD pathway is open to experienced students and career-changers alike and can lead students to incredible opportunities across industries and jobs offering a median salary of $102,600.1

“Through faculty advising, peer mentoring, career advising, and professional development, our M.S. Program will prepare you for your dream job in the computing field,” Dr. Molla says. “I think the future of CIS program is very bright. This computing program helps to produce a well-trained workforce that will contribute to the economic well-being of the nation.”

Excellence in online degree instruction

The online M.S. in Computer and Information Science at Marquette is ranked third by the U.S. News and World Report for faculty engagement with an overall score of 96 out of 100 for student satisfaction and instructor responsiveness.2 Dr. Molla attributes these high scores to the commitment of the department faculty. “At Marquette, we promote active learning in classes where students have high involvement with the course instructors and their peers,” he says, “Students meet with their faculty advisors on a regular basis to discuss their progress and study plans. We also have dedicated graduate teaching assistants who can provide students with academic support, peer tutoring, and peer mentoring.”

“Students in my class typically come from a wide variety of disciplines including computer science, data science, business, accounting, and many professional industries from across the country,” Dr. Molla says, “I enjoy having the flexibility to teach online and interact with students from more diverse backgrounds where each of the students brings a unique perspective to the class.” Molla considers his role as an instructor to facilitate sharing of knowledge and to make course content relatable and actionable to all students, even via online learning. “I prefer to incorporate more-hands on activities in my class and encourage students to build something of their own through class activities and project work,” he says, expanding, “The Computer Science Department uses a wide range of interactive learning tools that enhance the students' learning outcomes.”

Dr. Molla says that he finds the opportunity to contribute to the community as an educator extremely motivating and enjoys sharing a drive to learn with his students. “Being a facilitator rather than the sole expert is vital for teaching a diverse group of students has been critical for me in my practice,” explains Molla. “I believe each student and their learning styles are very different from one another and I try to make sure I’m addressing individual needs as well as needs of the class as a whole.”

Even outside of the classroom and beyond coursework, Marquette is able to deliver robust resources in a flexible format. “The program always prioritizes students’ preferences,” Dr. Molla says, noting that most computing students are working while earning their graduate degree, “The program supports students not only with their academic challenges, but offers a variety of support services.” That includes an assigned Student Success Coordinator upon admission, access to Marquette's Career Services Center, online workshops, networking opportunities and “field trips” specific to students’ areas of interest and geographic locations, and more.

“The M.S. in Computer and Information Science provides an inclusive, engaging learning environment for students with diverse cultural and educational backgrounds,” Dr. Molla says.

Ready to revamp your career?

Whether you’re pivoting to computing from another field or are looking to strengthen and modernize your skills to advance into leadership positions, Marquette’s M.S. in Computer and Information Science has an expert team of faculty, compelling curriculum and a legion of support services to help you reach your career goals. Schedule a call with an Admissions Advisor for more information.