Screening Exam Questions for January 2010


You have been hired by the Human Society in downtown Los Angeles to develop a database for them. Although the Humane Society is present in all cities and towns, they are locally governed. The LA Human Society wants to have a database to keep track of their dogs and cats that are up for adoption. They want to keep track of the origin of the animal, date when it was brought in, condition when it was brought in. They also want to include a nice image and descriptive information (given by trainers) about the animal for potential adopters, e.g., how well the animal interacts with children, age, … They hope that later on, they can also include information from other branches, such as those in Oceanside, San Diego, Upland, …

  1. Design a database for this project. Include an ER or UML diagram (minimum of 3 entities) and the associated tables.
  2. How would you use indexes and keys in this database? Why? On which columns? Why?
  3. Explain in detail the use of at least one trigger or stored procedures. Why would you use it? What would it do?



Information system is a broad term that can cover many types of system. Some examples of systems are: a new, internal career tracking/development system for a large multi-national, a website for a local shoe store showing shoes in store, or a website for a nonprofit where donations can be made. The people you have to work with also differ in their skills, experience, and expectations of information systems.

With that kind of variety, no one-size-fits all design approach suffices for the analysis and design phases. In IS, we have a multitude of approaches ranging from the classical waterfall model approach, to newer ones such as evolutionary prototyping, agile development, etc….

Describe two situations that would require a different approach. For each situation, describe: 1) the intended information system, 2) describe your assumptions of the environment or company, 3) describe the design approach and how it would apply, and 4) explain why the chosen design approach is optimal in that situation.



This question contains three parts. Answer all of them.

  1. Explain how an audio signal is digitized using a quantization process. Describe how we arrive at a 64/56 Kbps transmission line.
  2. What are some of the objectives (initiatives) of 3G wireless communications as outlined by ITU? How they have been implemented in worldwide Personal Communications Networks (PCN). Give some examples.
  3. There is a lot of discussion about “Network Neutrality” in the news these days. Explain, briefly, what the Net Neutrality is and what are the implications of it (pros and cons) from the regulators, service providers and the end users perspectives.



Strategic agility (aka competitive agility) is the ability of the firm to respond quickly.

Describe two emergent technologies that can add business value in terms of strategic agility. For each one of them:

a.   Analyze the market landscape in terms of the pattern of technological changes and trends.
Analyze the opportunities and the benefits of these emergent technologies to add value to a business.
Analyze the impact of each of the emergent technologies on:

i.        IT portfolio management and risk management
Organizational culture and change management
The IT department structure and skills. 



You received a paper by Zhou and Duan prior to the screening exam. Answer the following questions about this paper:
  1. Did this paper do a good job of accomplishing the “Acknowledgement and Response” component of the Booth, Colomb and Williams model of how to make a good argument? Explain your answer.
  2. Why to do you think the reviewers, associate editor, track chair(s) and program chair(s) accepted this paper for publication in the conference proceedings? It is not particularly well written, does not address a topic that normally would be accepted as IS & T, and does not seem to address the conference theme of “Research that Matters”. In your opinion, what implications does this have for the field of IS & T?
  3. Assume that the authors submitted a revised version of the paper to a journal, that on the advice of the reviewers the editor decided that the authors should “Revise and Resubmit” paper, and in providing feedback to the authors the editor noted that the authors must extend their work so they can triangulate their findings. What is the editor telling the authors to do? What guidance might the editor give to facilitate this suggestion?
  4. If you asked the authors to state their philosophy of research, what do you think they would reply? Why?



You have just started your job as an Assistant Professor at ABC University. Your research is in healthcare and, luckily for you, you have been able to work with a doctoral student who has the same interests as you. The two of you designed an application for iPhones that measures the level of activity a person is engaged in (e.g., running or sitting). The application also has an interface that can be used by the same person to submit what and how much they eat during the day. Based on that information, the application advises people on actions to take. For example, it could suggest that the person should not eat the Snickers or Twix they entered information on. If the person proceeds to eat it anyway, it will suggest that the person take a 45-minute walk. (You can fill in more details as you like).

You believe: 1) your application provides correct information, 2) that it will be a big hit, and 3) that it will help people lose weight.

Describe the studies you will conduct to evaluate these three beliefs.