Local professor plays key role in developing computer science, information security programs

Last updated: December 10. 2013 4:23PM - 813 Views
ELIZABETH BAUMEISTER lbaumeister@theabingtonjournal.com

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In response to a rising demand for professionals in the field of information technology, Marywood University will offer two new majors in computer science and information security, beginning Fall 2014.

According to Dr. Chaogui Zhang, of Clarks Summit, associate professor of mathematics and department chair, these programs are an important asset to the university and its future students.

“The new majors,” he said, “will offer Marywood students academically challenging and rewarding fields of study. These degrees will complement and diversify the programs available here. Students will have the opportunity to learn the core knowledge and develop the practical skills to become a professional and a leader in information technology and cyber security.”

According to a university news release, the information security program will teach students to “protect IT infrastructure and business data; understand the legal and ethical issues surrounding cyber security; develop proficiency in computer networking and understand the principles of computer operating systems.”

Students in the computer science major, according to the release, will “develop proficiency in computer networking; understand the principles of computer operating systems and develop proficiency in at least one application area, such as database management, web application, computer graphics, etc. Students who graduate with a degree in computer science find success in careers in software architecture and development, database administration, web development, network and computer systems, and more.”

Zhang said the need for the new curriculum, which was developed over the course of several years, is evident in a projection by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which concluded among all occupations in the fields of science and engineering, computer science occupations will account for nearly 60 percent of job growth from 2008 t0 2018. He added a newer 2010 to 2020 projection shows a similar pattern.

He said this is important not only to the students, but their communities and the economy as well.

“Our region is going through a process of transformation,” Zhang said. “In my opinion, we are still trying to find our place in the new digital age. The future of our economy, local or global, undoubtedly depends on a robust IT infrastructure. Virtually all companies and organizations have the need to manage their IT properly. The most critical part of any successful IT department will always be the people and the talent behind the computers and network equipment.”

For high school students considering a career in these fields, Zhang advised taking as many math courses as possible.

“Mathematics serves as a foundation of computer science in general,” he said, “and it plays a very significant role in cyber security in particular.

“It may not be as obvious,” he continued, “but students interested in these majors also need to develop good reading and writing skills. You will be expected to read and write technical documents and reports, as part of your college study and as part of your job after college. The ability to communicate effectively will always be important for any career.”

Zhang joined the Marywood University team in 2004 and became the mathematical sciences department chair in 2011, a job in which he said he is responsible for “improving our curriculum and developing new initiatives to enhance the educational experiences of all our students.”

He said the University currently employs four full time faculty with doctorate degrees in mathematics, two with M.S. degrees in computer science. It is recruiting more faculty with Ph.D.s in computer science and cyber security, the first of whom will join in Fall 2014, with more to follow in subsequent years.

“There are currently about two dozen math and math secondary education majors and minors in the department,” he said. “This is a very close group where students have very close relationships with their professors. With the addition of the new programs, we are expecting rapid growth in both our number of students and number of faculty, but we will continue to provide the personal attention that our students receive now.”

The university also announced a stand-alone master’s level information security program for students with a B.S. in computer science or a related field will be available in Fall 2017.

More information about the new programs may be obtained by contacting Marywood University at 866-279-9663 or online at www.marywood.edu/admissions.

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