Why Computer Science at Eckerd College?

The computer science major is a traditional computer science program that provides a balanced theoretical and practical foundation for careers in an exciting and rapidly developing technology area. Courses include programming, theory, software and systems design, graphics, image processing, and artificial intelligence.

Some graduates have begun their careers at large and small technology companies, while others have attended a broad range of graduate schools including Duke, Oxford, UCLA, and many other national research universities.

What is Traditional Computer Science?

“What is traditional computer science?” is a question that may be asked. Peter Denning, past president of the ACM, in the January/February 1985 issue ofAmerican Scientist wrote that:

“Computer science is the body of knowledge dealing with the design, analysis, implementation, efficiency, and application of processes that transform information. The fundamental question underlying all of computer science is `what can be automated?'”

Computer science is unique in the breadth and flexibility of the discipline, and in the potential for rewards derived from the profession.

As Denning points out, design, analysis, and implementation are at the core of computer science; and although many computer scientists design and implement hardware and software of computers, the discipline has links to many other disciplines and areas of study.

Mathematics is computer science’s oldest partner and is, in many ways, its parent. The mathematics component of computer science includes the identification of problems that can be solved with the computer, the evaluation of the amount of computing it takes to solve a problem or family of problems, and the development of algorithms to solve problems. It is not uncommon for computer science students at Eckerd to pursue either a double major in computer science and mathematics or a minor in mathematics.

Engineering and computer science have had a symbiotic relationship since computer science’s birth in the 1940’s. The design of computing hardware requires the closely coordinated work of the computer scientist, the computer engineer, and the electrical engineer. Additionally, computer scientists have developed many of the automated tools necessary to design the latest computers. Through the 3/2 engineering program (also called the Dual Degree Engineering Program), computer science students also can major in engineering. In this program, students attend Eckerd for three years and an engineering school for two years and receive a degree from each school. Information on this program can be obtained from the admissions office.

The study of human and computer interactions and the understanding of cognition and thought link computer science to the social and behavioral sciences.

Developments in graphics, computer animation, digital video, world wide web and multimedia are bringing computer science into the areas of commercial and fine arts, the performing arts, and education.

The underlying theories of programming language design have added a theoretical structure to the study of natural languages and linguistics. Researchers are working on the development of automatic language translators which have become important in the multi-language world of the world wide web.

In this single discipline, computer science elegantly encompasses theory, science, experimentation, and engineering.

In addition to the flexibility which comes from the breadth of the discipline, the computer scientist has a wide range of career options. Generally, careers that focus on the development of applications and specialized software for business and scientific areas require the Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree. With either degree, students are prepared for employment immediately after graduation. Students with an interest in the development of computer systems, including hardware and major software, will find that the Bachelor of Science degree provides a firm foundation for a career that may require a Master of Science degree and result in employment by a major computer manufacturer. A student hoping to perform advanced computing research or to be a university professor will find that the Ph.D. degree is essential.

Eckerd College graduates have been accepted in computer science graduate programs at some of today’s leading institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Texas at Austin, Cornell University, Duke University, Clemson University, University of Waterloo, University of Louisiana, University of Notre Dame, Louisiana State University and Emory University. Many of our graduates have received fellowships and assistantships for their graduate study. In a study by the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium, Eckerd College was ranked 11th out of 125 liberal arts colleges in the proportion of its graduates in mathematics and computer science who ultimately receive their Ph.D. degrees.

The U.S. Department of Labor in a recent report regarding computer science careers stated that “Employment is expected to increase much faster than the average as organizations continue to adopt increasingly sophisticated technologies” and “Job prospects are favorable.”

Our Computer Science program features include:

  • Curriculum that is based on recommendations of the major computer science professional organizations,
  • Faculty who teach within their areas of expertise and who are professionally active with research projects that include student participation,
  • Facilities that have been developed to support the academic program and to provide students with practical hands-on learning experiences.

The computer science laboratories, faculty offices, and classrooms are all located adjacent to each other providing a very effective educational environment. Most of the computer science courses are taught in computer equipped classrooms where hands on exercises are incorporated into the lectures. The Computer Architecture course has weekly laboratory meetings where students design digital circuits and explore computer instruction sets.

In addition to the major, Eckerd offers a computer science minor. Computer science minors are included in the majors of both Environmental Studies and Communications.