6/05/2012 Chris Karlesky ’01

College Offers New Major in Computer Science

Computer science at Franklin & Marshall received a boost of energy on Feb. 20 when the College’s faculty approved the creation of a new academic major in computer science.

While F&M has offered a minor in computer science for more than 20 years, the faculty’s Educational Policy Committee shepherded the creation of the major to allow students to concentrate in a discipline that is of growing importance in modern society. The program has been designed “to cover the mathematical underpinnings of modern computer science, as well as the theory and practice of computational problem-solving,” the committee wrote in its proposal to the full faculty. This includes courses that educate students in the fields of artificial intelligence, networks, computer organization and operating systems.

“Anyone who wants to participate fully in modern society needs a familiarity with the products of computer science," said Arny Feldman, the Carmie L. and Beatrice J. Creitz Professor of Mathematics and chair of the computer science program at F&M. “People with real understanding of the ideas required in the design and production of the various devices we are becoming familiar with will play a significant role in shaping that society.”

The process for developing the major began in 2004, when an external review team outlined the steps the College needed to take to offer the major. Associate Professor of Mathematics Wendell Ressler was chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science during the review.

Associate Professor of Mathematics Barbara Nimershiem spearheaded the development of the computer science program as chair of the department after Ressler. Nimershiem and other faculty members received guidance from the Liberal Arts Computer Science Consortium, an organization of computer scientists from liberal arts schools, in planning the new major. Computer science includes the study of how computers are organized, how they carry out their operations, how they store and transmit information, and how people control and interact with them.
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