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Monday, March 11, 2013 - MSITM program helps Las Vegas resident build credentials

Ali Bahreman has an insatiable appetite for learning. It’s that drive that helped him build a successful career in computer engineering and information security, and travel the world as a freelance photographer and then as a flight attendant.

It’s that passion for taking charge of his future that led Bahreman to take advantage of Oakland University’s Master of Science in Information Technology Management (MSITM) Business Analytics (BA) blended program as soon as it was available.

Bahreman, a Las Vegas resident, couldn’t be more pleased with this opportunity to gain knowledge.

“Through Oakland University’s MSTIM/BA blended program, I have access to state-of-the-art learning facilities, and the latest computer hardware and software programs, so I can learn and gain experiences at the cutting-edge of science,” he says.

Designed for working professionals, and out-of-state and international students, the MSITM/BA program offers half the required coursework online and half on campus. And regardless of where the students live, this career-advancing program is available at in-state tuition rates.

Oakland University’s School of Business Administration (SBA) began offering a BA track for the MISTM program in 2011 in response to rapid growth in the field. BA utilizes past and current business data, along with predictive modeling, to provide businesses with the insights they need to make informed decisions and develop strategies for future growth.

Critical skills

Bahreman quickly realized OU’s MSITM/BA blended program would help him build on his credentials and experience in the information technology field.

He had earned his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and a master’s degree in information networking nearly 20 years ago. Since then, Bahreman worked in the field seven years and then took a 12-year detour to explore more creative interests before making the decision to return to the world of technology.

“I needed to sharpen my skills,” he says. “The half online program makes it possible to pursue it from Las Vegas, where I live, and the in-state tuition makes it affordable. It really was an opportunity of a lifetime. I could not resist.”

Bahreman benefited from excellent educational opportunities throughout his life.

When his native Iran went to war with Iraq in 1980, his family left the country. Bahreman finished his last year of high school in Switzerland and his first two years of college in England.

“At the time, it all seemed like studies and hard work to me,” Bahreman says. “When I look back at it now, I feel thankful these experiences made me a more open minded and worldly person, and more tolerant of the diversity of cultures and people.”

A love for learning

That outlook fuels Bahreman’s passion for learning. And, it’s a passion that’s hard to miss, says Mark Isken, associate professor of MIS, one of Bahreman’s MSITM/BA instructors.

“Starting from day one, Ali peppered me with many insightful questions and observations, and I very much enjoyed the dialogue we had throughout the semester,” Isken says. “Ali never failed to deliver more than was asked of him with respect to assignments in my class. His final project simply blew me away in its technical breadth, depth and creativity.”

Before long, Bahreman’s positive attitude energized the entire class. “Enthusiasm is something I try to bring to my classes, and having that enthusiasm returned by students like Ali is a great gift,” Isken says.

A creative career

Bahreman began college as a pre-med student. It didn’t take long for him to find that dissections and memorizing Latin medical terms were not for him. Reflecting on his enjoyment writing a computer game in MS Basics with an uncle, he decided computer engineering would be a better fit for him.

After completing his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering at the University of Michigan, Bahreman worked for Bell Communications Research (Bellcore). Bellcore sent him to Carnegie Mellon University’s Information Networking Institute for an interdisciplinary master’s program for the telecommunications industry -- information networking -- on a full scholarship.

That combination of education and experience led Bahreman to his next position at a technology startup in California’s Silicon Valley, where he was principal investigator and project manager for a Department of Defense contract on secure electronic commerce in 1995.

“My master’s thesis was on ‘certified electronic mail’ and so my work there was very relevant to my interests in digital security,” he says. “This was when Internet commerce was just being commercialized and popularized. So we were setting the standards.”

After the startup was purchased, first by VeriFone and then by Hewlett Packard, Bahreman felt the work and environment changed.

“I felt I was only using the left half of my brain, the logical side. So I decided to take some time off and stimulate my creative side,” he says. Photography offered the perfect avenue – including the chance to experience new places and people. “I took classes and was trained in all aspects.”

Following that, Bahreman gave in to his long fascination with airplanes and became a flight attendant.

“I was always fascinated by how tons of metal can fly seemingly smoothly in the air,” he says. “To this day I still look up every time I see a jumbo jet fly over. So it was not a hard sell to work in one.”

He discovered the work is quite physical and calls for constantly adapting to changing work environments, people and routes. “That makes it is exciting and not boring,” he notes.

Back to his future

More recently, Bahreman started exploring the possibility of another path, one that would continue to draw upon his creative nature while allowing him to return to his earlier passion: technology.

One possibility, he says, is teaching. “Perhaps I can become a world-traveling university guest faculty and do consulting on the side to keep up with the pioneering sciences.”

At this point, he is keeping his options open as he builds the credentials to design his future career.

Whatever comes next, Bahreman adds, he is confident his MSITM/BA experiences at Oakland University will strengthen that future.

“I am free to make my own experiences at Oakland University and use the opportunities to take me where I want to go. Of course, the more effort one puts into the degree, the more one learns and gains positive results.”

By Flori Meeks