University of Calgary

Prospective Students

Submitted by admin on Thu, 06/07/2007 - 09:39.

Check out a video outlining our undergraduate program...

Program Description

We use computers today in almost everything we do. You are using a computer when you are texting your friends, listening to your iPod, googling for information, taking a quiz on Facebook, using a debit or credit card to buy a movie ticket, or driving your car. Whether it’s your car’s engine monitoring system, your camera cell phone, the traffic signals on your morning commute, the music you’re listening to or the movie you watched last night, chances are a computer scientist was involved in making it work.

Yet, it was only thirty years ago that the trend to use computers in the home started. Thirty years ago, people started buying desktop computers. Thirty years ago, people started to buy gaming consoles.  In only thirty years, computers have become so much a part of our lives that we are often not even aware that we are using computers anymore.

What will the future of computers bring us?  Will computers be the tool that helps us find a cure for cancer?  Will computers clean our homes for us?  Will we have found a way, using computers, to prevent identity theft?  Will we be able to interact with a computer as if it was a human being and have computers act as personal assistants?  Will we be able to share the advantages that computers offer with remote areas of the world?

In just thirty years, computers have changed the way we think about entertainment, communication, security, technology, and society in general. Will you be one of the driving forces behind the way computers change our society in the next thirty years?

Computer Science is more than just programming and word processing: This diverse field includes graphics, artificial intelligence and robotics, human computer interaction, quantum computing, gaming, security, bioinformatics, legal and social issues, and much, much more. The list keeps changing…

Why Study Computer Science?

Are you a creative thinker who loves solving puzzles? Do you enjoy working with others to find solutions to challenging problems? Do you want to be on the leading edge of technological development? Computer science is a dynamic field in which you can combine your creativity with your skills in communication, mathematics and logic. It will give you a degree that is highly employable in whatever industry you choose.  And, by studying and pursuing a career in computer science, you can help to determine the ways that computers will enrich peoples’ lives in the future.

There are lots of places to learn about computers. A university program in Computer Science has an important advantage over others: It combines theory and foundations with current technology. By understanding the foundations, you will quickly be able to adjust to the rapidly changing computer culture, during your career, without needing continual retraining. When you study computer science at a university you’ll also be more aware of — and even have a chance to take part in — the research that is helping change the way computers are used today.

What do I need to get in?

You must meet the admission requirements of the Faculty of Science. These can be found online at http://www.ucalgary.ca/admissions/.

What will I study in my first year?

In first year you will choose from one of three introductory course sequences in computer science — choosing the one that best fits your interests and abilities. Each will provide an introduction to computer programming along with an overview of the discipline of computer science.

You will also be studying logic and mathematics: Computers are based on logic, so logic and mathematics are necessary to understand the foundations of computer science.

You are also encouraged to begin to study another discipline in first year, allowing you to explore other subjects that interest you and support your studies in computer science.

What will I study in later years?

Once you have learned how computers work, and once you’ve sharpened your own logical thinking abilities through the math and computer science courses you took in first year, you will study the core areas of computer science, including data structures and algorithms, computer architecture and hardware, and operating systems, in more detail. You will take courses that will help you to produce more robust “industrial strength” software — software that is faster, more reliable, and easier to maintain than the software you could produce after first year. You’ll also learn more about the theory of computer science. As part of this, you will discover that computers cannot solve some problems at all, and you’ll learn how to prove this yourself!

In addition to your core courses, you will also be able to choose from a wide variety of optional courses in computer science. You are free to mix and match, in order to sample from lots of areas, or you can specialize in a specific area that interests you. The department supports several subprograms, called “concentrations,” that prepare you to work and do research in a variety of areas, including computer graphics, computer games development, computer security, and software engineering.  Completion of a concentration is recognized on your transcript, so it’s visible to potential employers.  But the topics you can study are much wider than this.  For example, you can study artificial intelligence (can we get computers to think like humans?), human-computer interaction (can we make the interaction between humans and computers more and more seamless?), communication and networks (how do computers across the planet talk to each other?), or parallel and distributed computation (how do they team up to solve a problem?).

Our internship program can be used to combine academic studies with experience in the workplace. We also provide several project courses that allow you to use computers to solve a significant problem under the supervision of a faculty member in the department.

Our program reflects the fact that the discipline of computer science is rapidly changing: We offer a variety of “special topics” courses at the fourth year level that can be used to study emerging issues and developments in computer science.

What can I do with my degree?

There is a considerable demand for our graduates in industry. Indeed, there is once again an industry shortage of qualified computer scientists. Our computer science degree is accredited by the Canadian Information Processing Society (http://www.cips.ca/). This puts our graduates on a fast track to receiving the I.S.P. designation, identifying them as Canadian information processing professionals.

Many of our graduates do work for software development companies. However — since Computer Science has applications virtually everywhere — your career options are limitless. For example, we have graduates that help to make movies, video games and interactive displays. Some of our graduates work in hospitals and at Calgary-based oil companies.

You’ll also be prepared to pursue graduate studies here and elsewhere should you decide you want to learn more.

Computer science is rapidly changing. The things you can do with a computer science degree are unlimited, and will have changed by the time you graduate. The opportunities are endless!

Who can I contact for more information?

The University of Calgary calendar (http://www.ucalgary.ca/pubs/calendar/current/) is the best source of detailed information about computer science programs and courses. The Department of Computer Science also has a web site (http://www.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/) with information for prospective students. You can also ask questions — or schedule an appointment with a faculty advisor — by sending email to cpsc@cpsc.ucalgary.ca or by phoning the department at 220-6015.