Our mission is to prepare students to participate in the redemption of the information universe by conceiving, creating, analyzing and critiquing computational technologies.
Program Learning Outcomes
"The Four C’s"
C1: Core Knowledge
Know the core ideas and methods in the field of computer science
Be able to communicate information and ideas of computer science in writing or orally
Be able to independently learn new ideas and techniques and to formulate and solve a novel problem in computer science
Be able to incorporate computer science knowledge and skill into a wider interdisciplinary framework and especially into a personal faith and its accompanying worldview
Core Values: Who We Are
Like many excellent and rigorous computer science programs around the world, we emphasize the fundamental and theoretical foundations of computation. At the same time, we ground the formal concepts in current advances in technology. Many aspects of the field are constantly changing, and staying current with new developments is a significant challenge. We believe that the best way to enable graduates to efficiently stay on top of the field is to lay a solid foundation of the fundamentals on which constant changes are ultimately based. We believe that the best way for us as faculty to remain current in the field is to conduct research and contribute to the field of computer science in our respective areas of emphasis. The formal foundation we lay serves our students well in their continued education in graduate school. For those who choose to enter the workforce immediately, this foundation equips them to be among the more versatile thinkers, learners and developers of their peers.
A number of schools provide similar rigor in their CS programs, yet two core values help set Westmont apart from other similar programs. First, the faculty commitment to research is coupled with an active intention and practice of including undergraduates in their research. These research opportunities for students greatly enhance the depth of their education and significantly improve their options for graduate school. The second distinguishing characteristic of CS at Westmont comes from the small intimate nature of the program. The faculty enjoy the opportunity and privilege of working one on one with students in course work to ensure that concepts are acquired. Thus, students are not left behind when difficult concepts are introduced as may happen in programs at larger universities. Similarly, our size allows us to support students when they want to combine CS with another major or to create an individual major.
Context: Where We Are
The excellence and rigor with which we pursue the fundamentals and the distinctive characteristics of our program are set against and within a rich multi-faceted context consisting of the liberal arts, Christian faith, social and community life and service, and simply a fantastic physical surrounding.
CS and the Liberal Arts
Studying CS at a liberal arts institution such as Westmont is particularly enriching because of the strong influences from the complete range of disciplines. A computer scientist's ability to solve problems is substantially enhanced by exposure and training in analytical techniques practiced in history or literary criticism. Our understanding of diverse computer languages is broadened and deepened by exposure to multiple natural languages and the study of linguistics. The creativity necessary to construct complex algorithms that solve difficult problems is in part developed through exposure to the fine arts. More importantly, the ability to communicate with peers, advisors, managers, and customers is critical to a successful career in computer science; the liberal arts emphasis on communication enables our graduates to serve as leaders in a field that has traditionally suffered from low communication skills. In essence, a liberal arts education addresses the development of the whole person and we believe that building a rigorous mastery of computer science only makes sense within such a context.
CS and Christianity
Computer science at Westmont lives and breathes in the context of a Christian faith perspective. What this means for CS is that studies of computation inform our growing faith, and that faith guides our study of computer science. There are a number of ways that this interaction can take shape, but two of the most significant would be in the areas of service and leadership. As computers have become ubiquitous beyond any other technological device, our students have the opportunity to exercise Christian service through their chosen vocations, regardless of specialty. We seek to develop a heart of service in ourselves and our students. Just as importantly, computer scientists have the awesome responsibility of guiding a discipline that holds tremendous promise as well as danger for humanity. Fully embracing our faith, we provide and develop leadership by pursuing scholarship that engages issues that will impact our society now and in the future.
CS and Social Contexts
At Westmont, we have achieved and maintained a social community context that defies the norms and stereotypes of computer science. We recognize that in order to be effective in their future careers -- either in graduate school and beyond or in the commercial sector -- our students must be effective communicators and problem solvers in group contexts. As a faculty, we have taken this requirement and turned it into significant element of our nature. Most of our courses involve group projects of one kind or another; we actively address interpersonal issues and group dynamics inherent in the processes of software development and problem solving. Beyond the classroom, we foster community strength and interpersonal skills through regular social gatherings both on and off campus. In every situation, we seek to develop an enjoyment of each other as social beings created in God's image.