CSC News

March 18, 2004

Special topics, other courses bring today’s hot issues in computer science to the classroom

The lineup of computer science courses for this summer and fall includes a number of new courses that focus on areas of major concern in today’s computer science industry:

- software testing and parallel systems,
- grid computing and network management;
- computer graphics;
- computational applied logic, and
- leadership.

There’s even a new course for students interested in participating in computer science competitions.

“It would be useful for students planning their course schedule to check out some of these courses, particularly those offered under the 'special topics' designation – those with a letter at the end of the course number,” says Dana Lasher, director of student services for the computer science department. The special topics courses are offered on a trial basis and may be added to the permanent course list after several semesters.

One of the newest special topics courses is CSC 495R, an independent study, research-based course on sensor-based wireless systems being taught this summer by Dr. Robert Fornaro, professor of computer science. Students in the course will learn about the concepts and practices related to the design of software for computer systems, especially battery-powered systems, that utilize radio frequency modules. This course is in the process of being added to the fall 2004 permanent course listing as CSC 453.

“Such new courses are continually being added to give our students insight into some of the hottest new areas in computer science,” Lasher says.

Software Testing
Two software testing courses, one for graduate students and one for undergraduates, will enable students to do the type of new product evaluation that is crucial for a successful product launch, Lasher says.

“In the real production world, you have to get the product working so you can ship it to the customer,” he says. “There are special skills required to effectively test a product so that it meets the required specifications, but not many places teach the process of testing. We are offering this course to give our students the opportunity to gain this valuable knowledge.”

The concepts presented in the course would be applicable in any engineering field, he says. The courses are CSC 252 (previously 295T), Software Testing, taught at the undergrad level by Melissa Lindaman, computer science instructor, and CSC 791Y, Software Testing and Reliability, taught by Dr. Laurie Williams, assistant professor of computer science, at the graduate level.

Faster computing
Another set of courses with direct application in industry today deals with methods to make computers work faster through grid and parallel systems – one of the most important areas for high performance computations and resource sharing in science, technology, engineering, and business.

“It’s harder and harder to build a single computer to run faster and faster, so now we are getting speed by doing things in parallel systems,” Lasher says. “This is the concept of grid computing, and it’s believed to be the next major thrust in computer expertise.”

At the undergraduate level, CSC 495T, Grid Computing, students will learn to use the tools that make grid computing a reality, as well as related security issues.

This course will be taught via television in the fall semester by Barry Wilkinson, professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and associate professor in mathematics and computer science at Western Carolina University. “This is an excellent example of the shared resources available through the North Carolina higher education system,” Lasher says.

NC State graduate students can take two related courses, CSC 591X, Introduction to Parallel Systems, taught by Dr. Xiaosong Ma, assistant professor of computer science, and CSC/ECE 791x, Network Management, taught by Dr. Harry Perros, Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor and program coordinator of the Master of Science degree in Computer Networks.

Gigi Karmous-Edwards, principal scientist at Advanced Network Research, is co-teaching the course with Perros. Advanced Network Research is a part of MCNC Research & Development Institute in the Research Triangle Park. MCNC has strong ties to NC State and other universities in North Carolina and across the country. Its Grid Computing and Network Services (GCNS) unit works closely with the North Carolina university system to implement one of the first statewide grid computing architectures in the country. Karmous-Edwards’ involvement in the course “shows how our world-class faculty, working with leaders in industry, bring such special topics into the classroom for the benefit of our students,” Lasher says.

Computer Graphics
Course options in the growing field of computer graphics include CSC 495G, Research Projects in Intelligent Interactive Entertainment, being taught this summer by Dr. Michael Young, assistant professor of computer science.

This projects-oriented course will put upper division undergraduates in computer science and related disciplines in a research project environment, working in teams on research in Young’s ongoing Mimesis project. They will have the opportunity to apply leading-edge research results toward creating a focused, engaging application in interactive entertainment technology.

Two computer graphics courses being taught in the fall are CSC 461-001, Computer Graphics, by Dr. Christopher G. Healey, associate professor of computer science, and CSC 461-002, Computer Graphics, by Dr. David McAllister, professor of computer science. Both focus on 3D graphics using OPEN GL.

Students with a competitive spirit may want to prepare for one of the many compute r science related competitions that become available in the course of the year by taking CSC 295M, Competitive Programming. Lecturer Carol Miller will give prospective team members a better understanding of the processes involved in the competition environment.

Other recent additions to the course list:

CSC 422/522, Computational Applied Logic, taught by Dr. Jon Doyle, SAS Institute Professor. Previously listed as special topics course CSC 591Z, this course provides an introduction to the conceptual and formal apparatus of mathematical logic, the process of logical formalization, and the applications of various logics across all of computer science.

CSC295N, Leadership in Technology, taught by Ken Tate, director of the computer science department’s ePartners Program. This course was designed to help students begin to develop a personal leadership style through presentations by industry leaders and a background in leadership fundamentals.


Return To News Homepage