Computer Science

Computer Science is the scientific study of how computers, data systems, and information networks perform their functions. With this knowledge, computer scientists create innovations in computer hardware and software that enlighten, enable, and entertain. As computer technology makes much of everyday modern life possible, the knowledge and skills computer scientists possess are critical. As a result, computer scientists find employment in virtually every sector of the economy.

Some of the most common tasks computer scientists perform are these:

  • write traditional software applications for a variety of industries and purposes
  • develop apps for smartphones and tablets
  • design and implement databases
  • design database-driven websites and web applications
  • write software for robots and other machines that automate manufacturing and other tasks
  • design and implement efficient and secure communications networks
  • secure computing devices and networks from cyber security breaches
  • protect critical infrastructures from cyber attack
  • probe the security of computers and networks to identify vulnerabilities
  • perform forensic investigations of computers and networks to determine if data were compromised
  • simulate human learning through artificial intelligence to assist with problem solving
  • create special effects tools for entertainment media
  • develop more efficient, scalable ways for organizations to store massive amounts of data (such as in the cloud)
  • devise techniques for distributing the processing of very complex problems using multiple computers operating in parallel
  • develop video games and video game development tools
  • create simulations of physical systems that help scientists understand subtle details of scientific processes

Computer Science emphasizes both the theoretical and the applied. The goal of Computer Science education is not to prepare a technician who is skilled only in using today's tools and meeting only today's challenges in a single field. Instead, computer scientists thoroughly understand how computer technologies do what they do and why they were designed as they were. This frees computer scientists not only to solve today's challenges with today's tools, but to seek better solutions and to adapt to changing challenges and needs in a wide variety of disciplines. Computer scientists can do this because their coursework has given them a keen understanding of the technical aspects of hardware and software design and operation, how computers represent and process data and instructions, how data are encrypted and authenticated, how databases organize information for rapid recall, how mathematical systems can be solved and visualized graphically, and how all of these technical considerations impact the design and performance of an integrated computer system. This comprehensive background in computing prepares students to face challenges and create opportunities in science, engineering, business, education, and, indeed, in society as a whole.

The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science offer undergraduates several opportunities for studying Computer Science:

  • Students who aren't quite as comfortable with mathematics may pursue a BA in Computer Science.
  • The majority of students pursue a BS in Computer Science. Students who pursue the BS in Computer Science may, if they wish, further clarify their interests and focus by choosing one of the following four Concentrations:
    •  Pervasive Computing: the development of software and systems for mobile devices and embedded control systems.
    • Cyber Security Operations: the theory and practice of securing computer systems and computer-dependent infrastructures against cyber attack, as well as investigating security breaches.
    • Gaming and Simulation: the development of software that simulates the behavior of systems and environments mathematically and depicts them graphically.
    • Computational Theory: the study of how computer systems represent and process data and instructions, with particular attention paid to computing frontiers such as artificial intelligence and large-scale data systems.
  • Students interested in cyber security and eventually earning a master's degree in it may pursue a Fast Track program in Computer Science and Information Security that earns them a BS in Computer Science and an MS in Information Security in just five years.
  • Students majoring in other disciplines who desire an exposure to the tremendous breadth of the field may earn a Minor in Computer Science.
  • Students majoring in other disciplines who are interested in cyber security may earn a Minor in Cyber Security Science.
  • Students majoring in other disciplines who are interested in developing solutions for the arts, literature, communications, and entertainment may earn a Minor in Web and Mobile Application Development.

In addition to a very interesting set of curriculum options, students also have excellent opportunities to obtain valuable work experience while attending Lewis University. Lewis provides numerous work-study jobs for its undergraduates, in which students can gain hands-on experience maintaining computer systems and assisting other students. Local businesses frequently contact the department concerning both part-time and full-time employment opportunities. Many Mathematics and Computer Science majors work at Argonne National Laboratory as part of a cooperative program.

In summary, a computer science education teaches students interested in computer technology how computers and networks function, how to develop applications for them, how to design systems that integrate a variety of computing technologies for accessing and interpreting diverse data sets, and how to secure computers and networks to ensure that sensitive data stay protected. With this broad foundation, Computer Science students can then specialize in more specific interest areas, particularly through their choice of elective courses in the field. They then graduate prepared to address critical and interesting challenges in diverse fields.

Recommendations for Other Studies

As computer scientists play important roles in virtually every other field, students who major in Computer Science are encouraged to minor or otherwise pursue coursework in other areas that interest them. For example, courses in Physics will help computer scientists create better simulations of mechanical and electrical systems; courses in Biology will help computer scientists learn how to model the dynamics of the human body, securely store and process private health information, and investigate the intricacies of the genetic code; courses in Media and Communications will give computer scientists ideas for how to contribute content and tools to creative pursuits; and courses in Business will make computer scientists more aware of how their thorough understanding of software, hardware, and networks can be applied to advancing the mission of a commercial enterprise and how sound project management techniques can significantly improve their work designing and developing computing solutions.

Transfer Students

Most transfer students who enroll at Lewis starting their junior year complete the major in two years. It is important, however, that students carefully evaluate which of their prior coursework will transfer by examining course descriptions instead of course titles, as the meaning of course titles do vary across different institutions.