Screening Exam Questions for Spring 2013


Each question has subsections and each subsection is followed by a number in parentheses; this has been provided to guide you on the relative importance of the subsection to overall answer. For example if the number in parentheses is (50) that means that the weight of this subsection for the question is 50%.



Question 1

You have been asked to design a database system for DonationDollars, a company that wants to facilitate donations to non-profit organizations via an online service. To do this, DonationDollars presents an online profile for each company on a website. Here, other people can make donations to the cause. The website shows the number of dollars gathered in a given time, the people who donated (can be by name or anonymous) and the amount of money donated.

In addition to facilitating this exchange online, DonationDollars needs to transfer all money to the correct organization, send a thank-you letter to the person who is donating the money (for tax deduction purposes) and keep track of the total amounts of dollars donated to all different companies.

For example, one organization that uses DonationDollars could be the Pet Orphanage, a shelter for animals. As an individual, you can donate money online to the Pet Orphanage using the website put up by DonationDollars.

Design a database for this project.

1.      Show the ER diagram for your database. There should be at least 4 entities with their relations. Clearly describe and explain all the symbols you use for your ER diagram. (50)

2.      Describe at least one stored procedure for this project in detail. Explain why using a stored procedure would be a good idea. Explain what the stored procedure would do using pseudo-code. (30)

3.      Explain the difference between an ER diagram and your final database diagram showing the tables. (10)

4.      As a software designer, you suspect that DonationDollars will want to do data mining later on to better focus on specific donors. What type of Big Data from social networks would you recommend they look at? How would it be used concurrently with your database? (10)

 Question 2

1.      We need to upgrade a channel to a higher bandwidth. Answer the following questions:

a.       How is the rate improved if we double the bandwidth? (15)

b.      How is the rate improved if we double the SNR?  (15)

2.      Explain the basic difference between a LAN switch and a LAN Hub. Which one has higher bandwidth and why?  (40)

3.      Briefly explain the principle behind CDMA. (30)

 Question 3

 The fundamental reason for IT success is Management. The task of management is particularly challenging in the boundary-less organization (IT Stage 4 Company), as the old ways of managing the traditional hierarchy no longer apply.

 You have been asked to write a guest column for a practitioner journal aimed at CIOs to explain your familiarity and your professional stance on the need to reinvent/reorient IT management to a new distinctive model that can be a key driver for agility. This summary should include:

1.      Trends affecting the nature of agile companies (25)

2.      Key factors in designing modular IT architecture (25)

3.      Structuring the IT organization to meet the goal of responsiveness (25)

Adopting a Management Model which combines the freedom and flexibility advantages with the control and coordination advantages (25)

Question 4

“Information system” is a broad term that defines many types of systems that facilitate the sharing and processing of information and ideas.  Examples of an information system include:

 A “Mobile Field Service System” that helps a municipal government: maintain its physical infrastructure (e.g., roads, sidewalks, storm drainage) through the collection, editing, and synchronization of data in the field such that the data is immediately updated and displayed on maps in the main public works office.


An “Applicant Tracking System” that helps a large, multi-national, employer: manage their applicant pool (e.g., pre-screen candidates, track where their applicants come from, coordinate recruitment efforts, etc.) and streamline their hiring process.


A “Website Analytics System” that helps a local shoe store: evaluate the usage of their website (e.g., who is using the website, what they are doing on the website, where the users are coming from, etc.) so that they can better understand their users and make informed decisions regarding marketing expenditures.

 With that kind of variety, no one-size-fits all system analysis, design, development, and implementation approach could be sufficient.  Fortunately, in the Information Systems field, we have many approaches (e.g., classical waterfall model, evolutionary prototyping, agile development, etc.) that facilitate the “construction” of these systems.  However, a key skill is being able to determine which is the right approach for certain technological and organizational circumstances.

 Describe two situations that would require different approaches.  For each situation, describe:

 Situation 1:

1.      The information system being designed (5)

2.      The organization environment in which it is being designed (5)

3.      The “construction” approach and method and why it is optimal in that situation, and (20)

4.      Why another specific approach and method would not be optimal (20)

 Situation 2:

1.      The information system being designed (5)

2.      The organizational environment in which it is being designed, (5)

3.      The “construction” approach and method and why it is optimal in that situation, and (20)

4.      Why another specific approach and method would not be optimal (20)

 Question 5

Strategic information technology alignment remains a top priority for business and IT executives. Please address this statement by addressing each of the following issues:

1.      The link between alignment and agility, and between agility and firm performance. (20)

2.      How IT Portfolio Management can be a central component to synchronize IT with corporate strategy. (20)

3.      The extent to which "Over-Investment in Alignment" can be risky to a firm’s health.  (60)