Stu­dents will have the oppor­tunity to take com­puter science classes this fall for the first time since 2015. | Pixabay

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.