CoC examines increasing enrollment

Photo by Brenda Lin

On Friday, Jan. 23, the College of Computing (CoC) celebrated 25 years on campus and 50 years of computer science.

The CoC has about 1,600 undergraduates majoring in computer science, 189 in computational media and 183 CS minors.

“Following the College of Computing’s founding in 1990, the number of computing undergraduates rose steadily until the dot-com bust in 2000, when it sharply declined,” said Michael Terrazas, Director of Communications for the CoC. “Since that time the College’s enrollments have gradually recovered … and we now enroll more undergraduates … than at any point in the College’s history.”

Computer science is a popular choice for elective classes across all majors at Tech. Close to a quarter of the class strength in most CS classes are students who are majoring in other departments. The extra large class sizes are becoming an issue for the CoC.

“We either allow the class sizes to increase … or we might add another lecture,” said Bill Leahy, Director of the Division of Computing Instruction at the CoC and a senior lecturer. “So if we had a class with two lectures of 200 and it was going to go to two lectures of 300 we might elect to make it 3 lectures of 200.”

The department will also combat the issue by hiring more faculty, according to Terrazas. There are currently 150 faculty associated with the CoC, the majority of whom are academic faculty.

“We are continually looking to hire additional top-quality faculty, both to expand the College’s research portfolio and to accommodate the growing numbers of Georgia Tech students looking to study computing,” Terrazas said.

Tech was one of the first two institutions at the college level in the U.S. to introduce computing. This has led to a number of important contributions to computer science research by faculty and students at the College.

“We have established an international reputation as a leader in CS educational innovation, from the creation of the Threads curriculum in 2006, to our many interdisciplinary graduate programs such as the PhD in Human-Centered Computing, to the creation of the undergraduate Computational Media program, to most recently with the OMS CS degree program launched in 2014,” said Charles Isbell, senior associate dean and also a faculty member.

Another program that the CoC has used to improve teaching despite greater enrollment is the undergraduate TA program. Several introductory courses have Tech undergraduate students grading and administering homework, and in some cases, holding separate recitations.