History of the Department of Computer Science
The computer science department on the campus of Tuskegee University was established in 1983. At that time it was a department in the College of Arts and Sciences. Mr. Roland Jackson was charged with designing the computer science curriculum and was appointed interim department head. In January of 1984, Dr. Hira Narang was recruited to head the computer science department. At this time, the student enrollment was approximately 250. The curriculum at the time was designed to prepare students in software development. In 1990 the Information Systems option was added to the department. This curriculum was developed to prepare students in the area of designing and managing software applications in a business environment. In 2001, the two options – General Computer Science and Information Systems – became two degree majors.
In the 1980s and the early 1990s, the department was located in Huntington Memorial Building. The department had 2 Unix labs and 3 PC labs. The PC labs contained standalone machines and each of the Unix labs contained dumb terminals connected to the server for each lab. The first day of class in the fall of 1991, tragedy struck when the Huntington Memorial Building was completely destroyed by fire. The majority of the department's resources were lost in the blaze. That semester, the department offices and classrooms were spread across various buildings on campus. In the spring of 1992, the department was relocated to the John Andrew Building. With the donations and support provided by Hewlett Packard and AT&T the department was able to establish 5 labs in the new location.
In 1991, the computer science department along with the mathematics department, offered a Penn Foundation supported summer program, FMACS (Freshman Mathematics and Computer Science), for recent high schools graduates with an interest in majoring in mathematics or computer science. Students participating in the 8-week summer program enrolled in 3 freshman level college courses. In addition to the classroom activities, students attended weekly lecture series with speakers that included university personnel, alumni, and professionals in the technical fields. They also toured surrounding corporations to gain first hand exposure to professionals in the workplace. Student in the program had the opportunity to earn scholarships and acclimate themselves to college life. The FMACS program was held until the summer of 1995.
In the fall of 1995, the computer science department's college designation was changed to the College of Engineering and Architecture. In 1996, NSF awarded the department with a 5-year grant for Minority Infrastructure for Teaching and Research in High Performance Computing. A part of this grant was used to start the FPICS (Feeder Program in Computer Science) and PREFICS (Pre-Freshman Program in Computer Science). The intent of both programs was to build a pipeline of minority students with the skills and interest in pursuing a degree in computer science at Tuskegee University. The FPICS program was a summer program for rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. The FPICS program was designed to enrich the skills and comprehension of mathematical concepts by using software and technology. Students also learned how to build web pages, use software applications to solve real life problems, and design and code solutions using a program language. The PREFICS program was similar to the previous FMACS summer program. This program; however, was for computer science majors only.
In 2000, Tuskegee University Board of Trustees approved the reorganization of the colleges on campus. As a result, the computer science department became a part of the College of Business and Information Science (CBIS). Renovations of the John Andrew Building led to the department's relocation to Wilcox-E Building in 2002. In this new location, the department had 6 labs used for both research and instruction. In the fall of 2007, the College of Business and Information Science moved to new a building (Andrew F. Brimmer Hall), which has state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, and facilities. In addition to the labs used for instruction and experiments there are 5 special labs for reserved for special projects and research. These special labs are the Robotics Lab, the Gaming Technology Lab, the High Performance Bio-Computing Lab, the Information Assurance Lab, and the Digital Forensics Lab.
The department updates the curricula based on the trends of industry and technology and the recommendations of the department's advisory council. The department plans to offer the Information Technology major in the future. This curriculum will train professionals who are skilled in the concepts and practices of the core information technologies as well as the administration and management of computer-based systems.
The department has acquired several grants from the government (NSF, NSA, etc.) and industry (Raytheon, Xerox, HP, etc.) to involve students in research with the faculty. In 2004, Raytheon awarded the department with a Minority Pipeline Initiative Grant to improve the recruitment and retention of students to the department, support faculty development and research, and provide summer internships for Raytheon scholars.
The National Security Agency (NSA) awarded the department a grant to build the Information Assurance (IA) track in computer science. The digital forensics lab was established with this funding to support faculty and student research and instruction in digital forensics. A total of 8 courses in the IA area were developed and some have been offered. Consequently, the department has acquired 4011 and 4012 security certifications from NSA and is ready to apply for CAE (Center of Academic Excellence) in Information Assurance.
In 2009, the computer science department was awarded an NSF HBCU-UP grant based on a joint proposal involving six STEM disciplines (Computer Science, Mathematics, Engineering, Biology, Physics and Chemistry) on the TU campus. Under this grant, the High Performance Bio-Computing Lab was established for teaching and research in bio-sciences and a new option in health sciences computing is in the initial planning stages. Also with this funding, the department started a pilot program that uses undergraduate student assistants (juniors and seniors) to support professors in teaching and also to mentor freshman and sophomore level students. With the positive outcome of pilot study, this program now serves as an innovative model and will become a regular feature for basic core courses in computer science.
Listed below is the timeline of the major events in Computer Science:
Establishment of Computer Science program at Tuskegee University in College of
Arts and Sciences, Huntington Memorial Building
Establishment of the IS (Information Systems) option
Burning of the Huntington memorial building and move of computer science to John Andrew building.
Establishment of FMACS (Freshmen Mathematics and Computer Science) summer program for high school seniors
The Department moves to School of Engineering and Architecture
The University is Re-Organized into 5 colleges: College of Agriculture, Environmental, and Natural Sciences; College of Liberal Arts, and Education; College of Engineering, Architecture and Physical Sciences; College Veterinary Science, Nursing and Allied health; College of Business and Information Science
Establishment of NSF Minority Infrastructure for Teaching and Research in High Performance Computing with a NSF grant ($1.2 million). This included FPICS, and PREFICS summer programs for 9th-11th graders as well as for graduating seniors
The Department moves to College of Business and Information Science
The Department moves to renovated Wilcox-E building
The Department receives Raytheon Minority Pipeline Initiative grant, $500,000, with main component as scholarships
The Department moves to newly constructed Andrew F. Brimmer Building
The Department receives NSA grant, $500,000, to build Information Assurance track in Computer Science
The Department receives NSF HBCU-UP grant $600,000 to initiate High Performance Computing in Bio-Sciences teaching and research