The past 20 years has proven to be exciting, challenging and rewarding. We’ve been privileged to work with some of the greatest individuals through interdepartmental collaborations at WSU. Our accomplishments are a direct result of the support and encouragement that we’ve received from WSU leadership and we are proud to represent the university through our work. We remain dedicated to our clients, committed to our students through applied learning opportunities and enthusiastic towards the discovery that the next 20 years will bring.
T3 Celebrates 20 Years
Thinking back to the technology landscape of 1998 – before some current WSU students were even born – is like looking into a different world. Google incorporated that fall. Microsoft launched Windows 98, to the relief of everyone struggling with Windows 95, and Apple released the iMac, the iPhone almost a decade away. Telephones, cameras, and computers didn’t yet come combined in pocket-sized form. And in Grace Wilkie Hall’s Counseling and Testing Center, the center’s director Don Nance started the Training and Technology Team, succinctly called T3.
Two decades later, in a high-ceilinged space at WSU Old Town, Yasir Muneer ’03, who joined T3 as a student in 2001, is executive director for a much-expanded and comprehensive organization that since 2016 has been part of WSU’s Research and Technology Transfer division, under the direction of John Tomblin, WSU vice president for research and technology transfer.
Back in 1998, explains Amy Jones ’93, T3 project manager, “Dr. Nance got a contract from the state of Kansas to provide training and technological services in the realm of mental health.” Reflecting that origin, T3 was, until 2016, affiliated with the College of Health Professions. That initial contract was for training healthcare providers around the state who worked with children receiving mental health services.
Through the years, T3’s mission has become an ever-bigger deal, with an ever-broader scope. Staff at T3 work with state and federal agencies, educational institutions, nonprofits, commercial businesses, and entrepreneurs. Current partnerships top 50, with recent growth aided by WSU President John Bardo’s “push and support,” which Jones says has been key in helping T3 grow. A sampling of clients includes the WSU College of Education, WSU’s division of strategic communications, Kansas Kids @ GEAR UP, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
What, exactly, does T3 do for such disparate organizations? The better question may be what don’t they do? A glance over their website (tthree.org) is almost overwhelming. The team, now numbering nine Shockers from around the globe, offers website development, graphic design, database solutions, and more. Among T3’s recent university-based projects is the design of the website for WSU’s Innovation Campus (wsuinnovationcampus.org), which Sandra Denneler, former art director for WSU’s creative services unit, describes as “relevant, productive, and innovative.” For the College of Education, T3 created the Performance Assessment for Students (PASS), an online data management system used for accreditation purposes.
Team members also created an analysis tool for public water systems, to help determine rate schedules; a six-module online course to teach safety standards for working with hazardous chemicals; and the Collect, Analyze, and Sync Tool (CAST), which allows field teams in areas where the Internet is limited or non-existent to collect data offline, automatically syncing to an online database when it becomes available.
Essentially, Jones says, T3 provides what the client needs, whatever that might be. “One thing people are surprised about with us is that we’re so diverse in what we can do and what we can accomplish. A lot of people think we just do websites – and we do – but we’re really, really skilled at providing customized solutions on a large-scale basis.” The team’s relatively small size allows for a flexible, streamlined approach to solution-building, with each team member offering a unique skillset.
The Training and Technology Team is proud to be 100 percent Shockers – and proud to provide applied learning opportunities for WSU students, more than 100 since 1998. One of them is Jared Schmidt ’09/17, who learned about T3 as a Management Information Systems (MIS) student via T3 members Muneer and Arif Mosharraf ’07/14, who periodically teach MIS courses.
Schmidt worked as a web developer at T3 between January 2017 and March of this year, and says his work “allowed me to directly apply many of the skills I was learning in the classroom. They gave me meaningful and challenging work that let me contribute to the team and gain real-world experience. My favorite part of working at T3 was being part of a team dedicated to delivering high quality service and products to clients – and everyone was dedicated to helping me learn as much as possible. My time at T3 helped me prepare for my career.”
Post-graduation, Schmidt landed a job as a web application developer, thanks in part to his on-the-job experience at T3. Schmidt is one of a growing number of WSU students who, as Tomblin puts it, “work with T3 and graduate with an impressive résumé that is the direct result of T3’s mentorship, professional development opportunities and working in a fast-paced production atmosphere.”
It may be hard to imagine what the next two decades of tech will bring, as advances in the field seem to only keep speeding up. “The pace of change is just going to increase,” says Jones, adding, “I’m just flabbergasted” at how comfortable today’s youth are with technology – even a toddler knows how to use a cellphone.
Yet Jones, Schmidt, Muneer, Mosharaff and other T3 staffers and clients are betting on at least one future constant: T3 will change with the landscape, making the next 20 years as productive and innovative as the last.
—Anna Perleberg Andersen
Posted with permission of The Shocker alumni magazine, a benefit of membership in the Wichita State University Alumni Association. Join the WSUAA at shockeralumni.org/membership.