Interview with Robert Hughes, Computer Technology (CTEC) Department Chair

Recently I visited with Robert Hughes, the Clark College Chair for Computer Technology (CTEC) to ask about how it is he came to sponsor the first WordPress degree program to be offered in the country and what he sees for the Information Technology future.

Robert Hughes, Computer Technology Chair at Clark College

Robert Hughes has a long tradition at Clark where he currently serves as Chair for Computer Technology, CTEC Department at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington.

Mr. Hughes has been faculty at Clark for over 20 years where he also attended as a student earning degrees and certs  in Scientific-Technical Communications and Electronic Publishing. Mr Hughes came to Clark to explore a range of educational studies with a prior degree in the mid 1980s. His mission at CTEC (Computer Technology) is threefold:

  1. To develop the computer science programming and Information Technology studies including the computer support program.
  2. To develop the programming and IT studies of all computer-related programs offered by Networking Technology (NTEC), Computer Graphics Technology (CGT), and Business Technology (BTEC), and the computer studies of all other Clark degree and certificate programs.
  3. To supply foundational computer and technology related courses to the college and community-at-large.

Reidy: What was your inspiration to add a WordPress degree program at Clark College for Web Developers and Graphic Designers?

Hughes: I went to a lot of user group meetings and conferences during 2010-12, many during a sabbatical I was taking. The role that WordPress was playing in the web development and web design world became very apparent. The energy of the WordPress community was different. It had the same kind of excitement and energy associated with it that I saw in the mid-90s with the early development of the web. The decision to have it be a part of the Web Development program came first and I am grateful that it is now included as a degree requirement for the Web Design/Graphic Design program as well.

Reidy: How did you choose WordPress as a Content Management System over other blogging platforms like Google Blogger or Yahoo Tumblr? (Drupal/Joomla)

Hughes: Blogging kind of came along for the ride.  What we really knew is that we needed a Content Management System. If you are going to be successful in the Drupal community,  you require a hard coding skill set unless you are associated with the support and project management aspects of web site development. I had a lunch with an old friend who had developed a Web Development program in Drupal and it had to be shut down because it was not sustainable.Bob Hughes

Also the contrast at  Drupal Camp and a WordPress Camp events I attended were profound. The Drupal folks were coders. WordPress Camp was filled with all kinds of folks that loved WordPress because it gave them such great access and opportunity. I had a similar heartbreak of helping to develop a Linux (Open source UNIX) admin and programming degree when the hype was high in the late 90s and early 2000s that the Intel Silicon gulch south of Portland was going to be a revolutionary community for Linux. The crash came. There were no jobs.

WordPress is a kind of open source erector set for the web. It will survive. My instincts about its flexibility were reinforced when I went to WordCamp and WordPress User groups in 2010 met Lorelle VanFossen at WebVisions in 2011. The grant and research work we engaged in along with other faculty during the winter through summer 2012 confirmed this in a very big way.

Reidy: Is there a certificate program for WordPress?

Hughes: No,  not nationally or anywhere else I can find. Our WordPress options in the Web Development program are to use it as a web platform core, similar to how Microsoft serves the Business Technology department or how CISCO and Microsoft or even UNIX serve as a core component for our networking areas. Or even as PHP and JavaScript play a role in our  Web Development program.   The core of our program was really modeled on the Interact Web Standards Curriculum.

Reidy: Does the degree program transfer to a 4year college like WSU (Washington State University – Vancouver)?

Hughes: No. The CTEC and CGT programs are a part of the Workforce Career and Technical component of this community college. Vocational Ed, as it used to be called, not our transfer BA area. Our AAT degree has a terminus. But  who knows, many of these courses might be a part of an Applied Baccalaureate program offered at Clark. Or, if another Washington applied baccalaureate program is a good fit, we might see some transfer options there—but definitely that is in the deep future.

Reidy: What partnerships have you formed for internship with the Portland and Vancouver Workforce?

Hughes: Internships are tricky business, especially in fields of programming and development.  We’ve done them with  students at the Columbian and some web design firms. So much is process right now. I foresee less internship and hopefully more for hire opportunities by employers for grads and those close to completing. Our advisory committee represents several employers and career paths. Many of our advisory members are also adjunct instructors which is excellent for us because they also have more opportunities to get engaged in curriculum development. Another big component of the Web Design classes is project work for real clients, often non-profits but sometimes for small businesses. Internships are one of several near-exit opportunities our students have for the professional development component of their degree work when they near completion.Bob Hughes

Additionally, some events and user groups such as WebVisions, Open Source Bridge,  Portland Bar Camp, WordPress Users Group and the Computer Human Interaction Forum of Oregon are sources of engagement for our students and faculty and have led to job opportunities for some of our students. Some partnerships and activities have already been created from those relationships and I only see more to come.

Reidy: What other departments are using WordPress? Does the College have plans for a Clark College Blog?

Hughes: Lorelle (VanFossen, WordPress Instructor at Clark Clark) has certainly been a bit of a WordPress evangelista here on campus.  She has demonstrated that WordPress has viability for a number of departments on campus including English, Career and Corporate Ed, Clark College Foundation.

A Clark College Blog would probably come out of our Communications and Marketing department. They will likely not switch over to WordPress but utilize the Clark web page CMS, but you never know. The employee engaged in the college’s front line social media and breaking news was one of the students in the first WordPress class we offered back in Winter 2012. She knows what the tool has to offer, so you never know.

Reidy: Where do you see the Clark WordPress programs going and what plans are there to incorporate it into the college? (Impact and examples of Clark classes using WordPress.)

Hughes: If the campus did not have the Canvas Learning Management System, I bet more folks would look at WordPress as a component for instructional delivery. I have a feeling we may see more of that as some instructors want to work on extensible options for teaching and learning at Clark that don’t require that.

Reidy: Thanks very much for your time Mr Hughes and thank you for sponsoring WordPress!Bob Hughes

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This entry was posted in Class Assignments by Michael T Reidy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Michael T Reidy

I am a student in the Web Development Associates of Applied Technology degree program at Clark College, Vancouver, WA. Our instructor is Lorelle VanFossen who was a senior editor of the WordPress codex. I have been working with computers for over 25 years. My first computer job was managing electronic data processing (EDP) for the US Department of Commerce as the Assistant Manager for Electronic Data Processing (AMEDP) in the Tulsa Regional Office of the 1990 Decennial Census. The computer was a midrange DEC VAX/VMS. Soon after, PC Networks became popular and I became a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE+I) and Trainer (MCT). I was recruited by IBM Sales as a Field Technical Support Specialist to launch their new PC Server brand. A few years later, I was invited to join IBM Global Services as a Team Lead Professional Server Expert (PSE) and Global IT Architect for Systems and Storage. I was both a contributing member and review board architect of IBM Global Services Reference Architecture. As Lead Architect for Integrated Storage Management Services (ISMS), I was the sole author of the IBM Global Services (GS) Method for Lean Storage Services: ISMS. When IBM Global Services offshored to India in the financial crises of 2007, I relocated to Vancouver, WA. For the past six years, I have worked independently as an Audio/Video Producer and Web Manager. In my personal life, I am the Minister of the St Clare Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order in Portland, OR and a Regional Councilor for Troubadours of Peace (ToP) Region in the Pacific Northwest states of OR, WA, AK, ID. I am responsible for Communications Technology development for ToP Region. I served the National Franciscan Order – USA (NAFRA) as a Q Committee member (AV Producer) for the NAFRA Quinquennial XVIII in Chicago, 2012. I twice received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for National Engineers Week: Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. I chaired the efforts of IBM, in conjunction with Intel, to promote minority recruitment in engineering through such programs as: Hermanas: Diseña Tu Futuro (Design Your Future). I was also an elementary and secondary classroom advocate for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). I currently volunteer as a Spiritual Care Volunteer for Legacy Hospital, Salmon Creek and as a Hospice Volunteer for the Veterans Administration in Vancouver, WA.

One thought on “Interview with Robert Hughes, Computer Technology (CTEC) Department Chair

  1. Great to publish your questions publicly, but you may want to remove his contact information as publishing that information require their permission on an open website.

    Fantastic questions. I’m eager for the answers!

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