Brenan Keller delights in playing the role of guinea pig. As one of a handful of Tulane University students who are in the School of Science and Engineering’s fledgling coordinate computer science major, he can’t think of a better, more practical way to prepare for his future.
"My goal is to be covered on the business and technology front," says Keller, a senior business major. "My ideal job would be product development or project management for a technology company like Google or an entrepreneurial venture."
Tulane University is building a new computer science program that provides outstanding curricular offerings taught by faculty who are internationally recognized for their research on applications of computer science to related disciplines.
The Tulane Computer Science Program began offering introductory courses in Fall 2011. In June, 2012, the Department was re-established and three new regular faculty were hired: Ram Mettu, Brent Venable and Carola Wenk. During the 2012–2013 academic year we established an undergraduate coordinate major in computer science. Over the next few years, we will expand the faculty to achieve a critical mass of 8–10 regular faculty who will establish a Ph.D. program. Eventually we also will establish a stand alone major in computer science. Our goal is a program that features innovative approaches to computer science that focuses on the application of computer science to related disciplines.
Our approach to building the program is to establish research groups in a number of areas, each of which will have a senior faculty member leading the group. We currently have a group in algorithms comprised of Professors Mettu and Wenk. Professor Venable, who has a joint appointment with the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in Ocala, Florida, works in computational social choice, an area within Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Professor Michael Mislove, the chair of the department, has a joint appointment in mathematics, and he works in computational models and the mathematical and logical foundations of the discipline.
This year we are targeting hires in machine learning and in systems, and we'll also consider applicants from other areas of computer science. Each of our regular positions has the possibility of a joint appointment with IHMC. Our goal is to continue to develop a distinguished faculty representing a broad range of areas of computer science. We anticipate starting our own Ph.D. program within the next three years. In the interim, our coordinate major for undergraduates has already attracted a number of students from across the campus, including students from the Business School. Even though this is its first year, we anticipate some students graduating next spring with the coordinate major.
We are keenly interested in attracting graduate students working in related areas who want to introduce a computer science component to their graduate work. One possibility is for students to pursue an Interdisciplinary Ph.D., which involves work in more than one department. Students interested in this option should contact any of our faculty about the possibilities.
The guiding principle in all of our efforts — hiring, undergraduate and graduate education and research — is to focus on applications of computer science to related areas of science and engineering already present at Tulane, as well as to develop a strong group of faculty in core computer science. Our goal is to be a leading program with an innovative curriculum that is known for education and research at the interface between computer science and other disciplines.
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