Fall 2018 State of the Department

The USF Computer Science department is thriving with four new tenure-track faculty members, two new research labs, a new graduate “Bridge” program that readies graduates from other majors for a Master’s in CS, and graduate enrollments that have doubled since 2016 and undergraduate enrollments that have tripled since 2013. The department is the largest and most diverse it has ever been in terms of both faculty, students, and expertise.

New Faculty

The new faculty members include Beste Yuksel who just started her third year and works in Human- and Brain-Computer Interfaces, Matthew Malensek (2nd year) who works in Big Data, David Guy Brizan (2nd year in CS) who works in Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning, and Vahab Pournaghshband (1st year) who works in Networks and Security. Hiring in CS is a huge challenge and we are thrilled to have added these terrific teachers and researchers to our department, and to have broadened our areas of expertise.

Labs

Beste Yuksel’s HCI Lab applies affective computing to social justice issues and is fully equipped with virtual reality and brain interfacing equipment (as part of an NSF grant). Beste recently won a Best Paper award at the prestigious CHI conference. David Guy Brizan, Matthew Malensek, and Math and Stats professor Paul Intrevado recently launched the MAGICS lab, which encompasses machine learning, artificial Intelligence, game intelligence, and computing at scale. These new labs, along with Alark Joshi and Sophie Engle’s Visualization and Graphics Lab, and David Wolber and Alark Joshi’s Democratize Computing Lab, provide CS students with some terrific extracurricular opportunities.

Bridge Program

The new CS Bridge program accepts students with undergraduate degrees in fields other than CS. The students take an intense year of fundamental CS courses after which they are automatically accepted for the Master of Science in CS (MSCS). The first cohort of bridged students is now prospering in the M.S. program and will graduate in 2020. If you’re looking to hire some well-rounded students with talent in multiple disciplines, these students fit the bill!

Growth and Diversification

The department has experienced unprecedented growth, with its undergraduate enrollments nearling tripling since 2013 and its graduate enrollments nearly doubling since 2016.

The department is proud of its diversity. Six out of fourteen full-time faculty are women and six are people of color. In terms of students, women make up 24% of our undergraduate majors, 32% of our graduate students, 44% of our Bridge students, and 60% of our CS minors. and the students are ethnically diverse as well compared to the national norms, as shown in Figure 2.

The Women in Tech group is one of the most active student groups on campus. With the support of donors Craig Newmark and Sarah Clatterbuck, we have been sent over 30 students each of the past two years to the Grace Hopper Conference celebrating women in computing. The department has also launched the Diversineers, a new student group encouraging underrepresented groups in computer science, and sent our first contingent of students to the Tapia Conference on Diversity in Technology

Computer Science departments across the nation are being challenged by dramatic increases in demand, a shortage of Ph.D.s in CS, and the need to diversify. USF CS has met this challenge by hiring terrific teachers and researchers and with a department-wide drive to encourage diversity and support our students.

Written by Professor David Wolber

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