Computer and Information Technology

analyzing a CAT scan

Computer and Information Technology is a minor within the Department of Computer and Information Science.

Undergraduate minor

 

A Balance Between Cutting Edge and Community

As computer technology becomes increasingly important, the number of careers in the field continues to grow. Computer and Information Science (CIS) offers students the opportunity to study this dynamic science. The minor in computer information technology (CIT) teaches students about the development and management of business databases, computer networks, web applications, and software systems.

CIS undergraduates may choose to specialize. Software engineering, for example, focuses on software design and development. Networking emphasizes the interconnection between individual computers. Cognitive science examines the relationship between the computer and psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience. The graduate school option prepares students for the pursuit of advanced degrees and conducting research.

Picking a specialty helps students focus while incorporating a variety of other subjects and interests. This type of interdisciplinary approach is especially relevant as innovations in the field leap ahead.

CIS hosts many social functions where undergraduates can meet graduate students and faculty members in a relaxed setting. CIS has a strong peer advising program, providing undergraduates with academic counseling, tutoring, and information on jobs and internships. The Women in Computer Science group allows female undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty members to gather for discussions, guest speeches, and social occasions.

At the University of Oregon, CIS balances the study of cutting-edge issues with the support of a close-knit community.

Points of Interest

  • Undergraduates have the opportunity to participate in research investigating topics such as artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, and theoretical computer science.
  • Each summer UO hosts the Programming Languages Summer School, an international gathering of students, professors, and industry professionals who come together to learn about the application of methods in language theory.
  • Each year the department participates in the International Collegiate Programming Contest. Sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery, ICPC is a competition among teams of student programmers to see which team can solve the most programming problems in a short amount of time.

Sample Courses

  • Multimedia on the Web introduces the basics of web communication, webpage function, and design. Students become familiar with digital media including graphics, animation, video, and sound, and use software to create interactive multimedia documents.
  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence explores theory and specific examples of knowledge-based computer systems.
  • Database Systems is an introduction to database design and access, with a focus on database concepts, data modeling, normalization, data warehousing, query languages, and the formulation of complex queries.
  • Cryptography is an introduction to coding theory and the process of scrambling plain text into ciphetext.
  • Network Security gives an overview of network security issues, looks at several of the most representative security problems, and investigates commonly practiced solutions.
  • Programming Languages explores syntax and semantics with a focus on scope rules, environments, stores, denoted and expressed values, procedures, and parameters.
  • Data Mining offers an introduction to the basic issues, algorithms, results, and applications of data mining through a study of methods for data management, feature selection, statistical modeling, and data clustering.
  • See more courses offered by the Department of Computer and Information Science.

Hands-on Learning

UO offers many research opportunities. A few possibilities for undergraduates include joining a research group, writing a thesis, or participating in research over the summer. The first step is to get to know faculty and the research they do. The Undergraduate Introduction to Research colloquia offer an overview of several faculty members' research projects. When you find an area you are interested in, make an appointment with the appropriate faculty member.

Internships are another option, providing students with practical work experience and usually offer a combination of credit and/or pay. There are usually a number of year-round local opportunities, as well as many summer internships involving travel.

The Student Experience

Molly Suver came to the UO in search of an education that would allow her lots of room for academic exploration and cross-fertilization of ideas. She loves the CIS program because its base in theory allows for interdisciplinary research. “Don’t be afraid to take classes that don’t exactly fit your major,” Molly recommends. Her work with Professor Steve Fickas produces hardware and software to assist the cognitively impaired in speaking and increasing normal motor skills, but Molly has also worked on games for the Xbox 360 with the Game Development Club. She even took second place in an undergraduate programming competition. What Molly didn’t want out of her education was an aggressively competitive environment. She gets that on the field leading Fugue, the UO’s nationally-ranked women’s Ultimate Frisbee club.

When Jesse Wakeley first came to the UO, he was interested in a major in music, but decided to change his major to computer and information science because he wanted to understand how and why computers affect our lives. “And I wanted a challenge,” Wakeley says. “I got what I asked for.” As the UO president of the Association for Computer Machinery, Wakeley works to host workshops and tours for members to see how computer science is applied in the real world. Wakeley is also a member of Upsilon Pi Epsilon (the international CIS honor society), and founded a social networking site for Eugeneans. But Wakeley has not abandoned his ties to music. He is in a band called the Cocky Pedestrians, which he says is “the only jaywalk-themed rap supergroup in Eugene.”

When Erik Brown decided to go back to school after years of working in the software industry, he quickly found his niche within the CIS department.“It’s a fairly small group and everyone is great,” Brown says. “You get to know everyone.” At the UO, Brown has been helping associate professor Anthony Hornof with his research into human-computer interfaces. “We research search screens in order to help people use computers more effectively,” Brown says. Hornof and Brown’s research delves into how people use computers through tracking eye movements and how sound affects human interfaces with computers. “It’s a creative process,” Brown says, “because there are a million ways to write any one program. When you come up with an elegant solution to a problem, it’s a lot of fun.”

Featured Faculty

Professor Sarah Douglas studies human-computer interaction. She looks at human behavior with user interfaces and how to make the computer respond more sensitively to the user. This research could streamline computer function by matching it more closely with the user.

Associate Professor Michal Young’s work is focused on combining and integrating techniques for analysis and testing of software, and the environment infrastructure that makes integrated tools and techniques practical.

Assistant Professor Jun Li’s research targets network security, distributed systems, Internet protocols, and network simulation and performance analysis. His ongoing research projects include automatic defense against unknown self-propagating Internet worms through distributed monitoring; detecting and tracing attacks against the BGP routing protocol; robust communication architecture for security monitoring and warning systems; and secure data sharing among data clients.

Professor Kent Stevens has developed the Dino-Morph Project, a 3-D skeletal visualization of dinosaur movement. He served as a consultant to the British Broadcasting Corporation on a television series called Walking with Dinosaurs. The program features digitally rendered dinosaurs superimposed on live-action footage of places where the flora closely resembles that found 100 million years ago.

Career Opportunities

A background in computer and information science prepares a student for a host of careers. From research to web design to truly futuristic interactions between humans and machines, students in this field truly are on the cutting edge.

A major in CIS will allow you to manage computer network systems in large companies. You'll have the knowledge and skills necessary to create complicated computer graphics. You'll also be able to handle information systems and networks.The major is practical, versatile, and easily applied to a number of careers.

Department of Computer and Information Science

Contact Information
(541) 346-4408