New Computing Majors Expand Possibilities


By Stephen Collins '74

Recognizing that computer science is “an enabling force for creation and scientific discovery,” according to the proposal, Colby approved four new majors this year combining interdisciplinary computation with biology, environmental studies, music, and theater and dance.

For years the Department of Computer Science has tried to enable computational thinking throughout other disciplines and throughout the College community. Now these new majors create an explicit mix of computer science with the four other areas of study. Each new major explores how computation can enhance and expand the other field.

Taking the new major in theater and dance-interdisciplinary computation as an example, Associate Professor Bruce Maxwell, chair of computer science, said many people have a hard time seeing the connection. But, in fact, stage sets, sound, choreography, lighting, and other aspects of performance are now designed and often are controlled using computers.

The new major aims to take students beyond using existing computer programs. “What would be the capabilities of someone able to customize these programs to their needs?” Maxwell asked. “They’re not limited by the options that some other programmer designed into the system. ... They’ve expanded what they believe is possible.”

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