This year, AU updated its academic catalog through the addition of new majors and alterations to existing ones. Among the changes came the new Bachelor of Science in computer science.
The new major is different from the Bachelor of Arts in computer science in that it incorporates applied mathematics and physics to the computer science curriculum.
“The Bachelor of Science in computer science at AU prepares students for graduate school in computer science and also for going on to work in industry in computationally intense type applications where they’re using a lot of their math and science thinking skills,” says Dr. Jennifer Coy, head of the computer science department.
“We had a lot of students doing double majors in mathematics and computer science,” says Dr. Kyle Tarplee, Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and
Director of Engineering Programs. “Instead of getting their feet wet in both areas, we want them to focus on a stronger computer science major. It’s a fundamentally stronger major.”
Coy, who has a doctorate in physics, oversaw the implementation of the new major over the past curriculum revision, a process through which the department must update classes and requirements as the computer science field changes rapidly.
Although the Bachelor of Science has not been accredited by the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) or the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the program is aligned with all requirements set by those bodies.
“Our program is distinct in that we require cybersecurity classes, which is not always required of other universities,” Coy says.
“Neither ABET or ACM require cybersecurity, but our industry partners are placing an increasing emphasis on their employees understanding cybersecurity,” she says. “This gives our students an advantage with employers who value the soft skills provided by a liberal arts degree.”
Davis Peterson is a sophomore who transferred to AU from the University of North Georgia to follow his family when they moved to Indianapolis. He is one of the first majors in the new computer science program, and aims to use his degree to find a career in development.
“I’m not sure what exact route I’ll take with all that, but I do love to code,” says Peterson. “So learning these applied maths is helping me know more algorithms and applied sciences that use coding.”
Coy met with Peterson this past spring to discuss the department and what AU has to offer. “She described the difference between the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science,” Peterson recalls of the meeting. He was looking for a computer science department with smaller class sizes and accessible professors, and ultimately says that the Bachelor of Science played a prominent part in his decision to attend Anderson.
“Another big thing that drew me in was the Genesys lab,” says Peterson.
The Genesys Center is partnered with AU and aims to provide students with experience in professional code through its internship program. Brian Schultz is a senior software engineer and manager of the workspace.
“Students write their code,” Schultz says. “Then it gets reviewed by their peers and by other professionals in Indianapolis or Raleigh, and they’ll get critiqued on it and be mentored on how to improve it.”
Students enjoy the convenience of student employment on the third floor of Decker Hall, coming in to work between classes on a flexible schedule.
Tyler Cooper is another transfer student in the computer science major, coming as a junior from Saint Joseph’s College, which closed after the last academic year. “I took a computer hardware and networking class in high school, which sparked my interest,” Cooper says of what interested him in computer science.
“I had already declared Bachelor of Science in computer science at St. Joseph’s, so naturally I was looking for a similar program,” says Cooper.
Through the personal contact with students and hands-on work in class, the professors in the computer science department desire to leave an impression of life-long learning.
Coy wants to teach students to have a love of learning, especially within the field of computer science. “There’s always new languages or new tools or new applications or new problem sets that they can learn about and apply their techniques and skills to,” says Coy.
“There’s tons of new ways of computing that are going to change the landscape considerably in the next 10-20 years,” says Tarplee. “It’s squarely within their careers so they have to adapt and deal with those kinds of drastic changes that are coming now.”