Computer science is the blend of creative problem solving and engineering principles.
What is computer science?
Students in computer science will begin studying the basic concepts underlying computer science, such as algorithms, programming languages, software development, and hardware design. Advanced course work will include specialized topics, such as networks, graphics, and artificial intelligence. Graduates of Shippensburg University's computer science program are contributing to every branch in the field. Our graduates are employed at well-known corporations and have even started their own multimillion-dollar businesses.
Where is computer science used?
Today, computers are used on a daily basis by organizations of all sizes. From tasks as "simple" as performing spreadsheet analysis for a Mom and Pop store to those as complex as monitoring and forecasting marketing trends in a multimillion-dollar corporation. With the proliferation of the Internet, even the smallest companies are developing web sites for doing business online. Computer scientists are involved in all aspects of computers and their uses from designing hardware and software to organizing and maintaining computer systems in an organization. Computers and computer scientists affect virtually all aspects of today's world.
What kind of career choices can I expect?
Careers are as varied as the organizations using computers. A hospital computer programmer has quite a different career from a programmer at a missile installation. Our graduates are prepared to enter the field as computer programmers and systems analysts. Systems analysts organize and define information and processes for computerizing tasks in various organizations. They combine their knowledge of both the organization and computer information systems to provide an automated operation. Computer programmers work closely with the requirements of an organization to actually develop the computer instructions to produce the desired results. Often the two positions overlap.
The need for personnel to maintain existing software and to produce new products is quite high. National projections indicate computer science is one of the fastest growing occupations. Our experience at Shippensburg University indicates students who successfully complete our program have multiple job opportunities.
What are the internship opportunities?
Many students in computer science hold an internship before they graduate. This experience enables students to encounter actual work situations. Usually, the internship is during the summer before the senior year. Some students choose six-month internships during both their junior and senior years and graduate after five years with one year of practical experience under their belts. These internships are with leading companies and national and state agencies. Recent interns were found at AMP, IBM Distribution Center, CoreStates, Letterkenny Army Depot's Defense MegaCenter, the U.S. Army War College, Blue Cross Shared Service Center, Book-of-the-Month Club, Trust Data Services, Sytel Inc., and the Navy Ships Parts Control Center.
How should I prepare for this field?
Typically, students who plan to study computer science in college take four years of math in high school. Two courses in algebra, a course in geometry, and a course in trigonometry form a solid basis to major in computer science. Many students also take calculus in their senior year, but this is not necessary. Advanced placement credit is available for those who were successful in calculus in high school. Students who plan to study computer science should have a general appreciation of the nature of computing and a desire to learn. Communication skills, both oral and written, are also critical for students entering the program.
What courses will I take?
The curriculum consists of a core of computer science and mathematics courses taken the first two years. Courses include calculus, discrete mathematics, programming and data types, files, databases, and statistics.
Each student must complete a cohesive course of additional study of advanced computer science courses plus courses from related or applied areas. Currently the department has five pre-approved concentrations: Systems Programming, Embedded Programming, Software Engineering, Computer Graphics, and Related Discipline. Students, with their advisor, may also create a customized concentration to submit for departmental approval.
The senior capstone research project, required of all majors, involves working with a faculty advisor to solve a particular problem and culminates in a formal presentation of results. Students develop solutions to real-world problems like an artificial intelligence engine being used to help determine which social agency is the best choice and a campus tour with commentary keyed by GPS location -- to name but two.
Can non-majors take these courses?
The department offers a computer science minor which is especially attractive to students seeking to combine chemistry, economics, finance, management, information systems, management science, mathematics, mathematics education, or physics with knowledge of computer science.
What are the university's computing resources?
The Mathematics and Computer Technologies Center is home to the Department of Computer Science (CS) and the university's Information and Computing Technologies Center (ICTC). The CS and ICTC departments work together to provide state-of-the-art computing facilities for our students. All computing facilities on campus have access to the Internet, and students are provided with e-mail accounts and space for web pages. In addition, 24x7 labs are available around campus.
CS students have many computing resources available to them. Each of our classrooms provides a Pentium 4 computer with Windows and Linux at each seat. Our advanced computing lab provides high-end Sun and Apple workstations with a Gigabit network for tasks that require high performance computing including graphics rendering and distributed computing. There is an 802.11 wireless network that covers all of our classrooms, labs, and study areas. CS students are also given an account on the dedicated CS servers which allow students to store their files in a central location. The CS department is an academic partner with Microsoft, IBM, Sun, and Oracle. Most of the software used in the classrooms is also installed in the labs or available for student's personal computers. There are also resources to support specific parts of our program, including robot toolkits and Palm pilot hand held computers.
What student organizations are available to the computer science major?
The department has a student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). It is active in bringing in speakers from firms involved in computing, assisting with department and university activities, and holding annual game-a-thons.
The Programming Team is a unique student organization at Shippensburg. Based on the model of a sports team, the students on the Programming Team compete with teams from other colleges and universities on the basis of their ability to effectively write programs within given time limits. The team consistently places well in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) contest. In recent years, the team has placed near the top out of over 100 colleges and universities beating out teams from Princeton, Duke, and University of Pennsylvania to name a few.
WiCS (Women in Computer Science) promotes an inclusive community within the department and provides a place for our female students to meet and share experiences. Through podcasts showcasing our female students, WiCS actively promotes an increase in the percentage of women in the discipline (http://webspace.ship.edu/wics).
Why study Computer Science at Shippensburg?
Our prestigious ABET accreditation not only ensures the current program meets strict academic and institutional standards but also that the quality will be sustained through university support, professional development, and availability of equipment. Students have full access to a wide variety of computing equipment. Our programming team excels at solving problems quickly. Its success in competing at national and international events has led to qualifying for ACM's World Finals competition. The department also hosts the Broadside Center where students solve real-world business problems in collaboration with local industry.