Computer Science Department Grows As Student Interest Grows – The Vanderbilt Hustler


The IT department separated from the Electrical Engineering department in the fall of 2021 and continues to grow.

Anjali Chanda

The Engineering and Science Building, pictured on November 6, 2020 (Hustler Multimedia / Anjali Chanda)

The Computer Science Department is experiencing growth in its number of student majors, number of faculty, research opportunities and course offerings. The Department to divide of the Department of Electrical Engineering in the fall of 2021 to better respond to growing interest.

According to Julie Johnson, associate chair of the computer science department and director of undergraduate studies in computer science, this is largely an administrative change and students will see it with the growth of the faculty.

Fall 2021 will mark the start of the second year of Destination Vanderbilt, a three-year, $ 100 million program that aims to generate growing interest in the field. The goal of the program is to hire approximately 20 new computer science faculty members, in addition to the previous 20 faculty members. The computer science department has already hired seven people last year and hopes to hire seven to eight new faculty members in the coming year, according to Johnson.

“We’re doubling the size of our faculty, which is very exciting,” Johnson said. “In the meantime, the number of our students has also practically doubled. “

Since 2019, there has been an increase of about 29% in computer science majors. In 2019, 451 students at the School of Engineering majored in computer science, 103 students outside the School of Engineering majored in computer science, and 130 students majored in computer science, according to Johnson. As of fall 2021, 569 students from the School of Engineering are majoring in Computer Science, 145 students outside the School of Engineering are majoring in Computer Science, and 140 students are majoring in Computer Science.

“The numbers for miners are not leaping by leaps and bounds,” Johnson said. “It’s the major who obviously just exploded.

According to Johnson, the rapid growth of computing is due to the fact that the subject has many “flavors” and is “ubiquitous” in a wide range of careers, ranging from data science and software engineering to computer science. entrepreneurship. Karolina Groszewska, a second year student majoring in computer science, also said that more and more majors are starting to use computer science courses as requirements, sparking more interest in the field.

“We’re encouraged to take different courses, but once you take the Introductory Computer Course it kind of encourages people to change or take a double major. [in computer science]added Zakariyya Al-Quran, a junior specializing in computer engineering.

Al-Qurran expressed enthusiasm for the various research interests that Destination Vanderbilt hopes to organize with its new faculty hires.

“[These professors] was doing [research] all their life, so it would be cool if these professors, who teach us, were the pioneers of their expansion project, ”Al-Qurran said.

When hiring new teachers, the leaders of Destination Vanderbilt, who are part of the Marshal’s office—Target four aspects of IT. These areas include autonomous and intelligent human-AI-machine systems and urban environments, cybersecurity and resilience, computer science and AI for health, medicine and surgery and design of next-generation systems, structures, materials and manufacturing.

Johnson said hiring new faculty members would also improve the scope and depth of computer science research at Vanderbilt.

“Providing all students with the opportunity to do research is a good opportunity to further develop their skills,” Groszewska said. “IT teachers promote extracurricular participation or having more IT teachers who are able to help in external projects or are willing and able to accept young undergraduates helps a lot in diversifying the interests of students. students and help a variety of students explore different fields, etc. ”

With the arrival of new recruits, the offer of courses for students has also increased. In the fall of 2020, the Computer Science Department offered 22 courses which have grown to 29 courses offered in the spring of 2021. In the fall of 2021, it will offer 29 courses.

Johnson also mentioned the increase in in-depth courses, which are advanced and specific computer science courses such as cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. The department offered 11 of these courses in fall 2020 and will offer 18 in fall 2021.

“Once [the seven new professors] have kind of integrated into the system, they will start teaching undergraduate courses next spring and the following fall, ”Johnson said. “So that’s probably seven more depth courses to come. “

Johnson emphasized the importance of computer science and encouraged students to take a computer science course even if it does not meet the requirements for a degree.

“We are working to be good teachers and we have an army of teaching assistants to help you,” Johnson said. “Nothing should stop you from taking this introductory first class. “


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