What are the best indicators for success in the Computer Science major?

Interest in the subject. Positive work ethic and willingness to work hard. Good mathematical/logical problem solving and reasoning abilities. We cannot stress strongly enough how important it is to develop good work habits: attention to detail, willingness to work hard, and an aversion to procrastination. These are the hallmarks of good computer scientists.


What student organizations can I get involved in, related to Computer Science?

The Student Association of Computing Machinery chapter. The ACM is the major professional computing society for computer scientists. All of the CS faculty are members of the ACM. Students in CS should be, too. The ACM also allows student chapters to operate on campuses such as ours. The SACM at Eau Claire (http://sacm.uwec.edu) can do many things, depending on the interests of its student members. Some things they can do are to provide Web homepages, permit resume postings, run workshops on Linux training, etc. If you're not a member, you should check it out.

The Women in Information Technology Systems student group, composed mainly of women majoring in CS or MIS. Much like the SACM, the WITS group at Eau Claire does many things, depending on the interests of its student members. Women majoring in CS should certainly get involved with this group.

 

New/Transfer Student FAQs

I'm interested in either Computer Science or IS ( Information Systems). What's the difference?

Computer Science (CS) is a major designed to study both the ways of representing and processing information, and also the machines and systems that perform these tasks. The key intellectual themes are algorithmic thinking, the representation of information, and computer programs. The "science" in computer science connotes an understanding of computing activities, through mathematical and engineering models based on theory and abstraction. Fundamentally, this means creating the right model for a problem and devising the appropriate mechanical techniques (i.e. programs) to solve it. A CS degree emphasizes the practical application of scientific principles and methodologies to the development and maintenance of computer systems -- be they composed of hardware, software, or both.


Information Systems (IS) is a major designed to prepare students for careers in such fields as information systems, business analysis, and management consulting. IS involves the application of quantitative methods, statistics, and computer science to business problems; it also involves a thorough understanding of how such methods are implemented in the development and administration of information systems in an organization. An IS degree emphasizes three core competencies: knowledge of the functional areas of business, quantitative methods for business analysis, and management information systems. Just like computer science, a good student in this area requires a certain aptitude for quantitative problem solving and for working with computers. But the IS major does not emphasize theory and abstraction to the extent that would be found in majors in mathematics, statistics, or computer science.

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What is the difference between the Computer Science: Software Engineering emphasis and the comprehensive major entitled Computer Science? Which one should I choose?

The difference is simple. The Software Engineering emphasis requires that you select a 24 credit minor from some other field of study. In addition, it has fewer CS and Math requirements, namely it does not require computer networks (CS 462), Calculus II (Math 215), and statistics (Math 246 or 345). It emphasizes software design and development, namely software engineering. The comprehensive emphasis does not require any minor since it supplements the major courses with additional work in computer networks, mathematics, and two electives. The comprehensive program includes everything that the Software Engineering emphasis requires, but it adds some additional related course work. The choice comes down to whether you have an interest in pursuing a minor in an external field. If you do, choose Software Engineering.

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I'm a freshman just starting my education in Computer Science at Eau Claire. Who will be my advisor?

Dr. Dan Stevenson advises all incoming freshman for their first year in the CS program. After that year, each student will be reassigned to one of the other regular CS faculty for the remaining time at UWEC. Dr. Stevenson has the best overall understanding of the general education (GE) requirements at Eau Claire, and she uses that knowledge to help advise all freshman CS majors. Because so many students will want to see her, you will need to make an appointment. (email: stevende@uwec.edu or phone: (715) 836-2526)

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I'm a transfer or second degree student just starting my education in Computer Science at Eau Claire. Who will be my advisor?

The Department Chair advises all incoming transfer and second-degree students in the CS program. Because there are so many different ways in which a person could transfer into the CS program, you should be sure to make an appointment to see him as soon as possible and bring along a copy of your "degree audit" (you can get this from the registrar) and of your "transfer evaluation form" (also obtained from the registrar). Note: if you are a second degree student, you won't be issued these forms, so you should bring your transcript instead. If you have taken some courses in CS at your previous school, and you think these might be worth transfer credit, you should bring along a syllabus from that course and any other information that might help the Chair evaluate the content of that course. (phone: (715) 836-2526)

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I'm a transfer or second degree student in Computer Science at Eau Claire. How do I file a "degree plan", and when is the deadline for filing it?

You can pick up your degree plan form from the College of Arts and Sciences (Schofield 138). Your major advisor will help you establish a sequence of classes in your major. If you have any questions regarding general education requirements, please consult the Associate Dean (Michael Weil). Submit the degree plan to the College of Arts and Sciences as soon as possible.

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Is there a way to read my e-mail from off-campus, even from outside of Eau Claire?

Yes. You can read your e-mail via the web at https://webmail.uwec.edu. You must login using your UWEC login name and password. You should have received your login name and password (a combination of UWEC and your 4 digit PIN like this: UWEC####) when you first enrolled at UWEC.

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Is there a way for me to register from off-campus, even from outside of Eau Claire?

Yes. You will need to access the "MyBlugold" system. You can find the detailed instructions on how to do that at this URL: http://www.uwec.edu/Blugold/. You can also email your advisor if you know the email address (just check our web pages at http://www.cs.uwec.edu/).

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I have no prior computer science experience. What CS courses should I take first?

Assuming you have the appropriate math background (have completed or will be taking pre-calculus algebra or a higher level math course), you're ready to take our beginning level computer science courses. The CS program has recently been reformed to be more friendly to students without any programming background due to the lack of availability of CS courses in high schools. CS 145 (Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming, currently using the Java programming language) and CS 146 (The Big Picture in Computer Science) will get you acquainted with both programming and many other important topics in the world of computer science. You should then take CS 245 (Advanced Programming and Data Structures) in your second semester here.

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I have some prior computer science experience, specifically a course in programming. What CS courses should I take first?

You should talk to your advisor to evaluate your past course work and determine whether it can count in place of any of our courses. It's very possible that a prior college-level programming course in Java, or even another similar language such as C++ or C#, could be substituted for CS 145. It is also possible to have a high school AP test in computer science count for CS 145. Talk to your advisor or the department chair if you have questions on this.

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I have some prior computer science experience, specifically a course in computer applications like Microsoft Word/Excel and using a web browser like Netscape/Internet Explorer. What CS courses should I take first?

The answer here is the same as if you've had no prior programming experience - realize that using computer software is not the same as programming, designing and analyzing computer software. See the answer to question #8 above.

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I'm a CS major. Can I select the Web Design & Development minor?

No. A major and a minor must generally be selected from different departments, with a few exceptions. Since the courses in the CS major and the Web Design & Development minor have significant content overlap (given that the CS major also has courses on web programming, database systems and software development), this combination of major and minor isn't allowed. However, you can minor in Art (graphic design emphasis) or in Communication/Journalism to get the same sort of background to compliment your CS interests. Another possibility is a topical minor (basically a custom minor), which can be set up in consultation with your advisor and with the approval of the department. Talk to your advisor if you're interested in this possibility.

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I'm a CS major. Can I select the Computational Science (CPSC) minor?

Yes! The Computational Science minor is not "housed" in the CS Department, and there are no restrictions on combining these two programs. Just follow the rules for the CPSC minor, and you'll be fine.

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What are the best indicators for success in the Computer Science major?

Interest in the subject. Positive work ethic and willingness to work hard. Good mathematical/logical problem solving and reasoning abilities. We cannot stress strongly enough how important it is to develop good work habits: attention to detail, willingness to work hard, and an aversion to procrastination. These are the hallmarks of good computer scientists.

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I've heard that the Computer Science major at Eau Claire is demanding. Is that correct?

You bet. Did you also hear that those who meet the challenge are extremely well prepared for the workplace and graduate school? Did you also hear that the CS program at Eau Claire is well worth that effort? Well, you just did.

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Which should I pursue, a BS or a BA in Computer Science?

It doesn't make any difference to us. Both are fine. The main consideration is the amount of natural science vs. humanities and foreign language that you must take. These are GE (general education) issues, not CS issues. You could talk to your advisor about the specific differences.

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What are the programming languages used in the CS program?

Java and C++ are the primary languages with which you'll work and gain experience. However, you'll also have a chance to program in a variety of other languages, including C#, Scheme, Prolog, and others. Most importantly, you'll learn how to learn new programming languages as part of your study of computer science.

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What are the operating systems used in the CS program?

Windows is the primary operating system both for the systems in our labs and for classroom instruction and demonstration. However, we also use (and you'll have access to) variants of Unix/Linux, such as Redhat Linux.

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If I take an internship (CS 498 or CE 498), will I still be classified as a full-time student while I'm gone?

If you are registered for the course, thus doing an internship for credit, yes. That's automatically recorded when you register for CS 498.

If you do not take an internship for credit, you will not be classified as a full-time student. If not being a full-time student is a problem for you (e.g. you're concerned about health insurance and financial aid), then you should file for a one-semester "leave of absence" with the Dean of Students. That will put a hold on the payback of your financial aid for a maximum of one semester. You will also want to consider applying for the health insurance package offered by the Student Senate for that same period of time.

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If I retake a CS class for a better grade, how will that affect my GPA?

The repeat privilege applies only to courses taken at UW-Eau Claire for which a grade of C- or below was received or if you officially withdrew from the course (i.e. you received a W as a grade). If you received a grade below C and you have not yet received credit for a follow up course (one which has the first course as a prerequisite), then the second grade will replace that grade below C and the GPA will be recalculated.

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Which capstone sequence should I pursue: elective (CS 485 & CS elective), internship (CS 485 & CS 498), or research I/II (CS 482 & CS 492)?

In the first two cases, the base of the capstone experience is CS 485 (Software Engineering II). This course will give you experience working with a team to solve a project for an outside client (often local non-profit organizations, but sometimes with on-campus clients or perhaps working as part of an open-source software development project.) If you decide on a CS 485-based option, the next decision is regarding what course to pair with CS 485. The internship sequence (CS 485 & CS 498) is always a great idea. Whether you intend to go to graduate school after UWEC or straight into the workforce, you can't go wrong with a good internship experience. Dr. Jack Tan is the department internship coordinator. See him for the details.

If you know you want to go to graduate school following UWEC, and you have an interest in some research area, you would also be very well served by pursuing the research I/II sequence (CS 482 & CS 492). This can be great preparation for the sort of independent research and thinking that you will encounter in graduate school. The key here is to find a faculty member willing to collaborate with you on your research project. Maybe you will even be interested in something a faculty member is already doing!

If you can't find an internship, and the research sequence doesn't fit your needs, then pursue the "elective" sequence (CS 485 & CS elective).

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What are the rules regarding access to the CS labs?

The CS labs in Phillips Science Hall are not general access (GA) labs. P124 is the Karlgaard Laptop Laboratory, a peaceful room with tables and couches for group meetings or a place where students can bring their personal laptops and work. P124 is for those students majoring or minoring in Computer Science programs only. P115 is for students taking Computer Science courses, including students who are non-majors. P107 is the Software Design Lab and is also for CS majors working on group collaborative software design projects. Either way, the instructor of each CS course will tell you which labs you may use. They may also provide you with the electronic door combination. Note: in no case may someone, CS major or otherwise, use the lab for non-CS related activities.

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What student organizations can I get involved in, related to Computer Science?

The Student Association of Computing Machinery chapter. The ACM is the major professional computing society for computer scientists. All of the CS faculty are members of the ACM. Students in CS should be, too. The ACM also allows student chapters to operate on campuses such as ours. The SACM at Eau Claire (http://sacm.uwec.edu) can do many things, depending on the interests of its student members. Some things they can do are to provide Web homepages, permit resume postings, run workshops on Linux training, etc. If you're not a member, you should check it out.

The Women in Information Technology Systems student group, composed mainly of women majoring in CS or MIS. Much like the SACM, the WITS group at Eau Claire does many things, depending on the interests of its student members. Women majoring in CS should certainly get involved with this group.

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Does the department offer any certificate programs?

Yes. We offer two. The first is a certificate called "Computer Programmer" and requires completion of CS163, CS 145, CS245 and CS255. We also offer a certificate called "Web Design and Development," which requires completion of CS318, CS319, CS320, and CS321. We also collaborate with the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in the Design Verification Engineer certificate program. That certificate (awarded by CVTC) requires completion of CS163 (or equivalent experience), CS278, CS352, CS388, and DVE I (CVTC 605-168) and DVE II (CVTC 605-169) taken at CVTC

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What type of laptop should I buy as a CS major?

Short answer - we recommend a Windows-based laptop, dual-core processor, and a current wireless networking card.

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