Faculty award winner provides real-world project for students with class competition

  • Professor Achita Muthitacharoen teaches classes in the management information systems curriculum, and recently won the Faculty Risk Taker Award. 
  • The award stemmed from an innovative, hands-on competition she holds in one of her courses in partnership with Koch Industries. 
  • Students get valuable experience learning to cooperate in groups, create a real product, work with a client and pitch their ideas throughout the semester. 

Achita Muthitacharoen takes risks to help enrich her students' education

This past spring, Achita Muthitacharoen, professor of management information systems, won the 2019 Faculty Risk Taker award for her willingness to try new, innovative ideas. Dr. Mi, as she is known to colleagues and students, has been innovating at Wichita State for almost two decades.

“I’ve been here for 17 years, so I must really like something about WSU,” she joked. “Truly, from my heart, it’s the people.”

It is her appreciation and admiration for the people around her that inspires Dr. Mi to take risks. She knows technology is constantly changing, so she is always thinking of new ways to keep class relevant for her students.

She holds a competition in partnership with Koch Industries for senior MIS students. Throughout the course of the semester, student teams create a web application for a streamlined hardware and software acquisition system for Koch employees.

The requirements for the project come from the Koch team, who throws in curveballs like real clients would. Students must meet deadlines and communicate with the client in order to deliver a successful product.

“It’s a real-life project that the students get to experience, instead of me just giving them an assignment,” she said.

At the end of the semester, the top three teams are chosen, which then present their projects in front of executives from Koch and the Barton School of Business.

With the need for a hands-on curriculum, Dr. Mi works hard to provide unique opportunities for her students. She loves seeing students begin to understand and apply what they learn in her classes.

“You don’t have to wait until the end of the semester to see the student feedback. You can see their reaction immediately,” she said. “That’s what I enjoy most about teaching, and I can’t ask for anything more.”

You don't have to wait until the end of the semester to see the student feedback. You can see their reaction immediately. That's what I enjoy most about teaching, and I can't ask for anything more.
Achita Muthitacharoen, professor of management information systems

Dr. Mi credits Robert Moon, her former student and Koch employee, with the competition idea and Koch partnership. Through collaboration and dedication over the past five years, they refined and launched the competition with success.

“He had so many ideas,” she said. “I think it was his way to give back.”

While the class centers around the competition, and winning is nice, it is not the only objective. Because of the students’ hard work, several have gotten job offers based on their projects, which is the best possible outcome to Dr. Mi.

“It’s not about winning or losing,” she said. “It’s about what they have accomplished.”

Dr. Mi takes chances to make WSU’s MIS program better for the students and gets excited when they do well. Winning the faculty award was an affirmation of the effort she puts in.

“It’s a validation of the hard work I did, my students did, the Koch team did and the strong partnership we have together,” she said.

Moving forward, Dr. Mi hopes to keep the competition going and inspire more students by showing them what past students have accomplished and where they can go within MIS.