Computer Science (CS) is a challenging, growing field with great rewards. Every company and organization relies on computers, so it’s not surprising that job placement for Blackburn CS graduates into computing jobs or further study is exceptionally high. Demand for CS talent is predicted to grow faster than any other skill set. Blackburn offers both a major and minor in CS, and many computing jobs are open to graduates with a CS minor.
CS classes at Blackburn are interactive, project-based, and hands-on. Faculty lead labs and spend many hours supporting students one-on- one. Blackburn CS courses use industry-standard tools like Java, relational databases, and Windows & Linux operating systems, and also include trending new technology like AJAX, MongoDB/NoSQL, and Android Studio. Students learn about topics like game development, security, and artificial intelligence.
“CS students at Blackburn learn to be self-directed, disciplined and engaged. CS coursework develops creative thought and problem-solving skills”
Professor – Computer Science
The liberal arts curriculum at Blackburn ensures that students learn cooperation, leadership, and communication skills essential to a successful computing professional, and all of these skills are used in CS courses.
CS classes use group projects to encourage team-building and individual work to ensure depth of understanding. Question-and- answer classroom discussions are common, and students usually lead where the instructor goes. Blackburn is known for its one-on- one computer instruction.
Blackburn’s CS curriculum is compliant with the IEEE and ACM standard, which is designed by experts to prepare students for careers for today and in the future. Faculty have substantial real-world experience, many years of teaching, and a strong mastery of the science and practice of the computing discipline.
The CS department is home to men and women students from every background with many different interests. CS majors can choose any of Blackburn’s majors and minors, and majors from all other programs are welcome. Recent students have studied professional writing, criminal justice, accounting, graphic design, and business along with CS.
Most CS majors have no experience in programming or any other CS skills before starting the program. All CS majors do need to complete some math courses, and the Blackburn mathematics professors are recognized for their teaching skills. The CS program welcomes students starting at all levels of math.
The only expectation of incoming CS students is an interest in computing and an eagerness to learn.
Blackburn hosts a site for the Global Game Jam, the world’s largest game creation event (should we have a link to the submitted games from 2016?). Over one weekend in late January of each year, tens of thousands of game developers (including artists, writers, programmers, and more) at hundreds of sites in six contents produce thousands of games over an intense and fun 48 hours. All sites share the same theme, which is kept a secret until 5:00pm local time on a Friday, but no two games are the same.
CS faculty work with students on group and individual research projects. In summer 2015, two CS students were funded to work with Dr. Kevin Coogan to develop an Android app for encrypting and sending text messages and securely exchanging keys. Faculty also mentored CS seniors graduating in May 2016 in their projects in the areas of game development, artificial intelligence, automata, and interactive web development. CS will host more group research projects in summer 2016 and a new round of senior projects starting in the fall.
Awards & Events
The Computer Science Department honors the achievements of its students with an array of awards at special events, including:
- Beginning Scholar Award
- The Computer Science Prize to a graduating senior computer science major
The following scholarships are also available to computer science majors:
- Charles A. Green Scholarship Fund
- Robert M. Whitlock Scholarship Fund
Blackburn computer science majors have very high job placement, and the computer field remains a hot job market. Some of the many careers that Computer Science majors are prepared for include:
- Software Engineering
- Information Systems
- Web Design and Development
- Network, Database, and Systems Administration
- Intelligent Systems, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning
- Big Data, Data Science, and Data Mining
- Application Development
- Human Computer Interaction/User Experience (UX) Design
- Scientific Modeling
- Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics
- Business Informatics
- Healthcare Informatics
- Game Development
- Computing Research
Strong students also graduate prepared to pursue further education in CS, and full-time doctoral students are typically given free tuition, health insurance, and a living stipend.
- Computer Club: Blackburn computer majors can join the Computer Club, where members discuss common interests, career prospects, and new computer technology.
Work Program Opportunities
In the Work Program, CS students have multiple job opportunities that relate to their studies. Three departmental assistants are hired each year, and they help with tutoring, grading papers, administering servers and the research lab, and other projects based on student interest. These students often earn paid hours in addition to their tuition. Other students work in the data center and in technical services, helping students and faculty with computer needs.
CS has a growing number of server, both physical and virtual, all maintained by students for use in coursework and individual projects.
CS has two special labs only for CS students. The Programming Lab is where all course lab work is taught, and the Research Lab has top-of- the-line workstations for students working on projects in and out of classes. Unlike the lab facilities for other Blackburn students, both of these labs are available for CS student use on a nearly continuous basis.
Unlike typical Computer Science programs, Blackburn College Computer Science offers two courses for majors in their first semester. CS211 is the traditional first programming course, like those offered by many other programs, where students learn to create algorithms to solve problems, then code those algorithms into a language that the computer can understand. In addition, the department requires CS210, which covers the essential of computing that don’t fall into the category of programming. This course offers a broad overview of the types of problems Computer Scientists work on, the mathematical foundation to understand those problems, and basic techniques and current technologies for working on them. This two course approach to the first semester offers deeper appreciation for the discipline and for what the next four years holds for our students.