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MSU Texas introduces new computer science minors
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Filed under Public Information on Thursday, June 28, 2018 by Author: Public Information.

Three new minor programs in the College of Science and Mathematics at Midwestern State University will help MSU Texas students in any discipline stay on top of computing issues and be more qualified for jobs, whether in their chosen field or computer technology.

“Virtually all businesses and industries hire computer-technical persons,” said Ranette Halverson, Chair of the Department of Computer Science. “These new minors will allow students to focus on the discipline they are passionate about, fine arts, liberal arts, business, or any major, while simultaneously developing computer technology skills to open many new doors for employment opportunities.”

The minor in cybersecurity is designed for all students, especially those majoring in business and criminal justice. It will enable them to identify security risks in computing systems and potential solutions and implementation techniques for addressing security problems. Cybersecurity is a growing discipline and this minor will be a strong introduction to trends in this issue. For computer science majors, this will be established as a track.

An interdisciplinary minor in computational science will help students develop the skills necessary to use computing and mathematical concepts in an applied manner to solve problems in various scientific fields, and enable those students to work with scientists from different disciplines. All majors, especially those studying for a science, mathematics, or engineering major, will benefit with this minor.

Students who minor in High Performance Computing (HPC) will learn to solve significant problems on new, leading-edge computing architectures, including graphics processing units and other parallel systems. This program is for students of all majors, particularly those majoring in mathematics or mechanical engineering since both take some of the courses in the additional major requirements or core.

Halverson said that the ideas for these minors developed around the same time, but from different directions. While attending a Women in Cybersecurity conference, she learned of the large number of jobs available in cybersecurity. Although Computer Science Professor Nelson Passos had taught summer classes on security, Halverson developed a cybersecurity class and taught it the next year, with the seeds planted for a track, emphasis, or certificate in cybersecurity for computer science majors.

In 2016, MSU Texas received a custom-configured high-performance computing cluster specifically designed for parallel processing. This cluster, nicknamed Turing, is the foundation of the HPC minor. Students will complete the minor with at least three courses based on Turing, Halverson said.

Also during this time, Associate Professor of Computer Science Terry Griffin was working with Wichita Falls otolaryngologist Dr. Jed Grisel to develop a database of patients who would benefit from cochlear implant surgery. Graduate and undergraduate students worked with Griffin and Grisel to build the Auditory Implant Initiative that oversees the database that was built. Halverson said that as this project grew and became nationally recognized, the need for persons with experience in computational science and data analysis became apparent.

Halverson stressed that the minors are not for computer science majors, and that all courses for the three minors are already being taught. The programs were approved by the MSU Texas Board of Regents during its May meeting.

For more information, contact Halverson at ranette.halverson@mwsu.edu.



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