Hillsdale College will be offering classes in computer science next fall thanks to a recent faculty hire. John Seiffertt, formerly an assistant professor of computer science at Providence College in Rhode Island, will teach courses for the newly resurrected computer science minor.
Chairman and Professor of Mathematics, Thomas Treloar said the Mathematics Department chose Seiffertt because they wanted someone with enough experience to build the computer science program from scratch.
“Seiffertt was the one candidate who had the best experience rebuilding computer science majors and minors at other institutions, as well as a lot of very good teaching experience,” Treloar said. “He has a really cool research area in artificial intelligence, so that doesn’t hurt either.”
The computer science minor will consist of five classes. An introduction to computer science course will introduce students to Python programming language as well as basic programming techniques, data abstraction, and algorithms. A course on data structures will introduce students to the C++ programming language as well as to “arrays, lists, abstract data types, stacks, queues, binary search trees, heaps, priority queues, trees, sets, maps, and graphs,” its listing reads. Other classes offered will be on artificial intelligence and evolutionary computation.
Hillsdale College stopped offering computer science classes in 2015, when its computer science professor retired. The college decided to stop offering the computer science minor due to lack of interest.
“The program itself just didn’t have any success,” Treloar said. “There was one student graduating every other year with a computer science minor. But I expect things to take off much more quickly this time.”
Treloar said there has been an increase of interest in non-STEM related fields for computer science classes.
“In business, economics, finance, there are a number of faculty interested in it. But also in physics, you’re seeing more data analytics; and in chemistry, with data analytics and modeling,” Treloar said. “It’s this time where departments are starting to hire in those directions.”
Treloar said that computer science is helpful to study because it’s a language that helps students understand how to structure a particular problem.
“Computer science forces you to think, ‘Okay, what’s the question in front of me? How can I break it up into its components?’and then how does the language that you’re working with help you understand those pieces or understand those components,” Treloar said. “It’s not just that you’re learning a language because it’s going to answer your question for you, but sometimes you use a computer language because it helps you understand what that question is going to be.”
There will be two sections of introduction to computer science offered in the fall, as well as a course on artificial intelligence.