Computer science continues to be a dynamically growing discipline. Today’s treasured techniques quickly become tomorrow’s castoffs. Therefore, Northwestern’s computer science curriculum emphasizes the basic fundamentals of the field and hands-on experiences which make use of a collection of state-of-the-art hardware and software systems.
Computer science also continues to be a broadening field affecting more and more areas of life. Therefore, Northwestern’s computer science department offers two distinct majors: computer science and computer information systems. The two separate majors give students flexibility and the option to choose the specialization that best fits them.
Computer science is a study of the structure, theory and application of computers and computer programs. It includes the study of algorithms, the representation and organization of information, the management of complexity, and the relationship between computers and their users. Computer science is a mathematical discipline. It utilizes mathematical techniques for abstraction and representation of complex systems. From another perspective, computer science is an engineering discipline concerned about the design and construction of systems in order to solve complex problems.
Computer information systems is the study of the design, implementation and infrastructure of technology in organizations. Students are expected to develop strong analytical and critical thinking skills, professional interpersonal communications and team skills, and a broad perspective on business and development processes. Computer information systems is a mixture of computer technology, programming and development, mathematical thought processes and business experience. The computer information systems student should graduate with the ability to design and implement information technology solutions that enhance the performance of an organization.
Northwestern teaches all aspects of computer science in the context of a Christian liberal arts education. Consequently, the curriculum includes coverage of the historical and societal impact of computers. Students are challenged to consider how their Christianity will impact them in a highly technical discipline. By studying both the technical aspects of computer science and its integration with our Christian faith, a quality, well-balanced curriculum is attained.
Students are encouraged to take internships, which allow them to learn “how it’s really done” at the same time that they enjoy a semester in a different environment. Through its memberships in various consortia, Northwestern is able to offer excellent internships in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Internships in the Orange City area have also been arranged.
Northwestern’s computer laboratory includes a wide array of equipment suitable for providing a broad background and for supporting a large variety of activities. A network of workstations and a large collection of associated software are readily accessible to students.