Gone are the days when technology jobs were limited to the technology sector. In fact, research shows about two-thirds of these jobs now exist outside of the industry—in fields such as healthcare, education, digital marketing and more.
To keep up with modern world trends and to better prepare students for an increasingly technology-pervasive workforce, the CU Denver College of Engineering, Design and Computing has launched an innovative new Computer Science Plus (CS+) program.
In the interdisciplinary program, a student receives a bachelor of arts (BA) in computer science, which requires 120 credit hours of total coursework. What makes the program unique is that the curriculum has been designed to provide students with 38 hours of free electives to be used to customize their experience—the “plus” component.
CU Denver has carefully designed multiple pathways for students to combine the computer science BA with their professional ambitions and earn double majors, minors and additional credentials in myriad fields.
Faculty created these pathways by unbundling existing CS curricula, refreshing and modernizing it, and strategically rebundling parts of it with curricula in other fields. New cutting-edge elective courses are being created across disciplines to provide students with unique and targeted educational experiences.
An important element of the program is an emphasis on design innovation to enable students to use computing technology to create technological solutions that have value in the market while addressing human and societal needs; it prepares them to engage with important ethical considerations such as privacy and equity as they create computing solutions.
“Just looking at the trends, being able to do some level of computation empowers and opens doors to students, especially in areas that are up-and-coming,” said Gita Alaghband, PhD, professor and chair of Computer Science and Engineering, who spearheaded the program. In arts and media, for example, having some background in computer science can elevate a student’s capabilities in the digital arts, in music, and in animation.
“There is a component of this that is really useful in other fields,” Alaghband said of CS+. “I see that as a very powerful educational advantage for students.”
The CU Board of Regents approved the new BA program in spring 2019 and a soft launch took place this semester. Already, 32 students are enrolled and partnerships with pathways have been established across five of CU Denver’s schools and colleges: the Business School, the College of Arts & Media, the College of Engineering Design and Computing, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Education and Human Development. Pathways for the modular credentials include but are not limited to bioengineering, electrical engineering, chemistry, math, business, construction engineering management, entrepreneurship, human-centered design, and digital design.
Martin Dunn, the dean of the College of Engineering, Design and Computing, says of the program: “I am thrilled to launch this program. It provides students across CU Denver with access to a level of cutting-edge computer science education that will differentiate them in the workforce as computing technologies such as AI are transforming all industries. Our graduates will help drive digital transformation in their companies, and emerge as tomorrows leaders.”