What is Computer Science?

Study computer science — a discipline that’s critical to nearly every home and workplace

The field of computer science trains professionals to create and improve computer software and hardware.

Computer scientists tackle general computer and information needs, and work in every type of business and industry from biomedical to defense. Computer scientists design algorithms and use programming and state-of-the-art concepts in computer systems to develop and secure computer hardware and software. Your Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Houston Christian University will open up a wide range of job opportunities across the country.

The computer networks, databases, software and computer programs, data storage systems (cloud computing), and the individual workstations and computers comprise the information technology (IT) for a company or organization. Every device that communicates digitally leaves an electronic record of some type, which requires terabytes, petabytes, exabytes and, soon, zettabytes, of data.

In developed nations, it is quite possible that each person may account for up to 10 devices.

The engineers and scientists who design software, as well as hardware systems, often work together with the information managers who monitor and protect the information. Together, they maintain the security of operation and business continuity. Threats to safe operation may come from insiders (employees who create risk through negligence or ignorance, or have malicious intent) or from outsiders (bad actors representing criminal activities). The threats may come in the form of malware, ransomware, viruses or simply in the form of stolen information.

 What do you study in computer science?

HCU students in the Computer Science program work together with classmates and professors to design and build real control systems and real computer programs which function like those that are commercially available or used in industry.

The first two years in the HCU Computer Science program provides fundamental knowledge and skills in mathematics (e.g. calculus, linear algebra), science and computer programming, with the opportunity to implement and demonstrate those skills in a sequence of projects. Additional concepts in programming, data structures and computer operating systems in the second year help prepare students for more advanced subjects and projects in computer science in the upper levels. Students learn from professors and engage with industry partners. The professors in the Department of Engineering act as advisors and mentors for the students, helping them to make wise course and curriculum decisions, as well as wise career decisions.

As Computer Science students move into the junior and senior years, they learn important concepts in computer architecture, computer networks and security, advanced data structures and programming languages, and software design. Students may choose from advanced elective courses in digital forensics and cyber crime, wireless and mobile security, reverse engineering, cryptography, distributed and cloud computing, data analytics and blockchain. Every computer science student will complete at least one internship before graduation, and every student will complete a major, industry-driven project during the senior year.

Learn to Solve Problems. The College of Engineering at Houston Christian University has adopted an intensely active learning model that uses flexible hardware and software platforms (laboratory equipment owned by the students), and a series of carefully designed and guided projects. These platforms and projects enhance learning outcomes, motivate computer science students to solve problems and introduce the strategies of relating physical systems to cyber systems. The Securing America’s Future through Engineering (SAFE) Lab courses provide the foundation for students in all degree programs in the College of Engineering.

The “SAFE Lab” courses are taught in specially designed classrooms with tables seating four students and with ready-to-use fabrication equipment, including soldering irons, and other tools. Coupling fixed, University-owned equipment with each student’s personal laboratory allows faculty to mix it up in class, rolling together lecture, group problem-solving, laboratory exercises, prototyping, and shop activities. Student-owned labs also facilitate moving hands-on learning experiences out of the physical classroom and into student housing, the library or the coffee shop. This mixed-delivery mode reaches a broader set of learners than “book-centered approaches,” and begins cultivating an “engineering mindset” from the very beginning. These real-world applications excite students, build confidence, promote retention of knowledge, and provide a much-needed, hands-on context for students living in a digital age.

In SAFE Lab Cyber courses, first-year students build a computer using a microprocessor and related components (keyboard, monitor, inputs and outputs). The key component of the SAFE Lab Cyber Projects kit is the Raspberry Pi computer. Students will also learn basics of computer science and software programming, using the Java and Python programming languages.

Why study computer science?

Computer science is one of the fastest growing academic disciplines today for an excellent future career pathway. Nationwide, there is strong demand for computer science experts  in the government and public sectors, in corporations of all sizes, and in colleges and universities. Demand for computer scientists and information systems managers will grow as firms increasingly expand their business to digital platforms.

Employment of computer and information systems managers is projected to grow 19 percent through 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. -US Bureau of Labor Statistics

“By 2020, one of every two jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) will be in computing,” said Bobby Schnabel, chair of the ACM Education Policy Committee for the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society.

The most common job for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science is software developer, with a median pay in 2016 of $102,470. Computer science graduates currently work in a range of career positions, including director of IT, programmer, web developer, clinical systems analyst, professor, software engineer and applications analyst.