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Lycoming College has announced that its curriculum will be expanded for Fall 2022 with the addition of applied computer science. The new major will attract prospective students to the College, making the institution more competitive among its peers, particularly in the area of software development, one of the fastest-growing sectors in Pennsylvania. Lycoming previously offered a minor in computer science with a focus on the interdisciplinary aspects of computers and technology, and will continue to offer this course of study as a minor.
“Bolstering our curriculum to provide an applied computer science major will enhance STEM opportunities at Lycoming,” said Phil Sprunger, Ph.D., provost and dean. “The collection, analysis, and use of ‘big data’ has become a significant component of many fields, and developing a computer science major for Lycoming will allow students from many different majors to differentiate themselves with coding, data, and development expertise in a growing field.”
A student majoring in computer science should be creative, possess problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and have the ability to think computationally in an interdisciplinary environment. Expertise in computer science opens a wide range of opportunities for students, even if their primary choice of employment is in another field. Bearing this in mind, the department of mathematical sciences has constructed a comprehensive and manageable degree plan.
The objective of the program is to offer a streamlined and compact sequence of coursework that students can complete without compromising on their depth of topical knowledge. The proposed program will result in a bachelor of arts degree that balances theory with practice and may be specialized or generalized without compromising on the fundamentals of computer science.
“Our proposed major in applied computer science is concentrated enough to prepare the student for a career in computer science, yet it is manageable enough for a double major to help students boost their career choice and be prepared for the greatest opportunities post-graduation,” said Krish Pillai, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science.
When explaining why a computer science major would be attractive to prospective students and their families, Pillai shares, “Computer science is a very creative, satisfying field. Our students are not going to be irrelevant any time soon because computers are everywhere, and we are dependent on them. We need people to develop this software. Graduates in the field are in demand, and there’s not any other job out there that can compare when it comes to high salaries with an entry-level degree.”
The College expect seven students to declare a major in applied computer science, with expectations of growing that number to 10 per academic year.
“I first became interested in computer science during my sophomore year when I took a required course for a mathematics major. We were assigned a project in which we were to create an animal using code, so I created a giraffe. While it was a very rudimentary image, I realized that I could use code in whatever way I wanted to achieve my end goal,” said Kaitlyn Haefner ’24. “I decided to continue my education in computer science and am currently taking two courses with Dr. Pillai. He has spurred my interest even more because he is so passionate about what he teaches and applies what we learn to problems outside the classroom.” Haefner recently completed an internship at Discovery Machine, Inc., an artificial intelligence company headquartered in Williamsport.
More information on studying applied computer science at Lycoming can be found here: https://www.lycoming.edu/computer-science/.