For its 50th anniversary, past and present BGSU computer science program faculty are celebrating its evolution and preparing for its future. The celebrations will be happening on Nov. 7 and 8.
The program was founded in 1969 out of BGSU’s math and science department by a group of four faculty members, including David Fulton, who served as chair of the program for 10 years. It was the first computer science program in Ohio and has undergone several changes according to Jong Kwan “Jake” Lee, the current chair of the program.
“Starting from the old days, when the department was created, we were very different,” Lee said. “Since then, hardware has been evolved rapidly from 1969 up to the early ‘90s.”
With advancements in technology, Lee said computer science has become more diverse, expanding from basic programming to multiple fields.
“Nowadays, we’ve got cybersecurity, we got software engineering, we have high performance computing, we have graphics, visualization … Throughout the years, this field has been growing really fast,” he said. “It is everywhere.”
Of these fields, Lee said software engineering has become a dominant factor of computer science, and, currently, jobs within the field are expanding.
“There’s so much need in it … 70% to 80% of our students will get a job in software engineering domains, because it became so complex. It’s not like two, three people write with computers in a cubicle and make software. That won’t happen anymore,” he said. “BGSU computer science is heavily focused on software development.”
In addition, Lee said cybersecurity and digital forensics — a specialization in the computer science program — is becoming increasingly crucial with the advent of new technology.
“People are using cellphones everyday; they don’t know how dangerous it is to use it in (a) certain way. It’s very, very risky these days,” he said.
Another field, data science, works with the statistics of computer science, according to Lee. He said these concepts are continuously applied to modern computer science.
“It’s become so, so interdisciplinary where these technologies can be applied to everywhere these days,” he said. “In the old days, we just need a computer program to do one thing, but nowadays, it’s evolved in a very different way.”
To recognize these changes over the past 50 years, current students and alumni will converge at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union for a two-day event, including a speech by Dr. Alex Aiken, a 1983 graduate and current Stanford University professor in computer science. He is also a former chair of the Stanford computer science program.
Another speech will be done by Fulton, who co-founded Fox Software, a database software provider; served as vice president of Microsoft’s database products and has performed as a violinist since his position at BGSU.
Lee said both will present their perspectives on the past, present and future of computer science, and specifically, the direction BGSU’s program is going. Lee anticipates Aiken’s speech will present a distinct perspective on current computer science.
“Being a faculty member (at Stanford), he will have his own insight on different things. It’s great for students,” Lee said. Aiken will be able to teach students about the future of computer science, whereas in class students typically just learn how to solve problems.
Lee expects that AI-related technologies will become a greater focus of computer science curriculum.
“We’re not gonna have a Terminator thing, but still, but it will be an important part of our programming,” he said.
However, as technology continues to evolve, he believes computer science as a whole will see slower advancements.
“We’re almost at the limit … It’ll still improve, but it’s not the same pace as before,” he said.