Reform Movement: Demolishing Barriers Between Computer Science and Computer Engineering in Purdue University
Synergy Between Computer Engineering and Computer Science
Engineering is the ‘practice of safe and economic application of scientific laws’. Science is a ‘systematic observation of natural events in order to formulate laws.’ The field of engineering became a separate discipline from science in the nineteenth century.
Computer science, like engineering, is a field of applied science. Unlike science, it has a shorter-term view. Computer science aims to determine what will work, and not to discover fundamental laws of nature. It is akin to engineering in its emphasis on automation. Therefore, computer science is more aligned to engineering than to science.
At Purdue, the Department of Computer Science was established in 1962 in Engineering within the Division of Mathematical Sciences, and soon after moved to Science as a part of the same Division. As computer science is closer to engineering than to science, the historical anomaly of the erroneous location of the Computer Science Department is best corrected by moving it to the College of Engineering (Mathur).
Advantages of Moving the Department of Computer Science to College of Engineering
Minimize Overlap. There is considerable overlap between the computer engineering and computer science programs in Purdue University. There are twelve duplicate courses at the undergraduate level and seven at the graduate level. Five core courses at the undergraduate level have significant overlap. Twenty-nine courses in the Computer Science Department could be offered to students of the Computer Engineering stream. While computer engineers could benefit from exposure to information security and software engineering, computer science students would gain by learning computer architecture (Purdue).
Financial Savings. Merger of the two streams would release considerable resources and result in considerable financial savings. At least $3 million in recurring funds are projected to be saved during the first five years after the two programs are consolidated. When current staff begins to retire, the savings would rise to $3.75 million. Consolidation of course would increase enrolments and also give an opportunity to those desire to pursue computer science as engineers to pursue their dream. The increased enrolment would be compounded with a vibrant distance education program, further enhancing revenue. When the two programs are combined, a new MS Degree could be fashioned, drawing on the strengths of both programs (Purdue).
Rankings. Purdue’s Engineering College is ranked ninth at the undergraduate level and tenth at the graduate level in the USA. This ranking would help in the standing of the computer science department when it gets associated with the engineering college. This would lead to a more vibrant academic profile (Purdue).
While current and prospective students and a large proportion of the faculty is likely to support the merger of the computer science and computer engineering programs, some opposition is likely to emerge from tenured faculty in respective departments. To faculty on tenure, such a move might translate to a shift from the routine and a plunge into the unknown. Some faculty might question about how their program would get enriched overnight by a shift to the engineering college. A few members of the faculty might object to the lack of a comprehensive consultative process. Such opposition can best be handled through a genuine consultative process, where the misgivings of faculty can be put to rest.
Moving the Computer Science Department of Purdue University to the College of Engineering will lead to synergy and substantial financial savings. The move will invigorate the Computer Science Department and draw in a brighter student pool. As such, it is recommended that the move be taken up post haste for the betterment of Purdue University.
Mathur, Aditya. “Resistance to a Proposal to Move Computer Science to the College of Engineering.” CS.Purdue.edu. 03 Mar 2011. Web. 08 Nov 2014.
Mathur, Aditya. “The Case for a School of Computer Science and Engineering at Purdue University.” CS.Purdue.edu. 04 May 2009. Web. 08 Nov 2014.