Monday, January 7, 2008

Pastor Dave,

I took a quick look at the Computer Science department curriculum at Colorado School of Mines (Mines) and at Abilene Christian University (ACU). In my examination, I compared their coursework with what I would expect an undergraduate degree in CS to provide/require for graduation. In each case, a sample four year program (as specified by the school) was reviewed.

I find that the ACU coursework is fairly typical of any college or university—it provides the standard core classes and has an additional subfield of study—software engineering. The “non” software engineering is more what I would call a traditional CS undergraduate coursework list. The software engineering variant trades off Calc 3 for Web Development and more applied software skills. Both seem prudent and effective. The student's interest should guide his selection in one area or the other (with the advice of faculty of course.)

I was a bit dismayed in Mines' CS undergraduate curriculum. They route all students through a common first year—basically an introduction to engineering. There would be no CS at all until the sophomore year (though clearly, you may need/want to write some software to aid in the calculus and physics courses required during the freshman year.) Additionally, much more applied science and engineering is required throughout the Mines' four year schedule. I can't honestly recommend this CS school for someone solely interested in Computer Science. If the student is interested in doing applied mathematics, engineering, and computer science then Mines may be the right school. If interested more in the “pure” computer science, this probably isn't the right school.




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