The computer operations program was designed as a one-year, three quarter alternative to the seven quarter mainframe computer programming degree. The initial catalogue description follows:
The Computer Operator program is a three-quarter program designed to qualify students as (mainframe) computer operators in an increasingly complex and highly skilled data processing field. The complexities of (mainframe) computer operating systems and peripheral equipment make it necessary to have people specifically trained for operations.
Although the purpose of the program is to prepare (mainframe) computer operators, sufficient related instruction is offered to permit further career advancement in the data processing field. These related courses include: data processing orientation, accounting, mathematics, computer fundamentals, program languages, and control and support systems.
Career opportunities for students exist in business organizations utilizing (mainframe) computer systems.
Students who enrolled in the program initially were pursuing computer programming. Some had difficulty with the rigor of computer programming classes or were forced to change their objectives based on family or financial needs. This option allowed them to move into a related occupation and receive a diploma, and secure employment. The curriculum was identical to computer programming for the first two quarters. The third quarter focused on computer operations and included substantial time operating and troubleshooting (mainframe) computer operations. It was viewed as a one-year option to computer programming. Some students who initially enrolled in computer operations discovered they had the ability to become a programmer, and continued in that major after their first two quarters.
The program could not be started until 1968 when the data processing program was moved to the Ankeny campus where a computer lab with an IBM 360 was available to run computer applications.
The computer programming advisory committee assisted with establishing and guiding computer operations.
The program was later discontinued in the late 1980's as desktop computers eliminated these jobs for the most part.
The data processing program chair supervised this program. Faculty who worked primarily in the program included Chuck Hilsenbeck, Ed Horner, Larry Swanson, Doug Meyers, Ralph Keul, Jim Bennet, Bill Lee and Janet Mooreman-Rice . The actual IBM mainframe was dismantled and disposed of in 2003. It was one of the earlier IBM 360 types as it had hand wired printed circuit boards inside it!