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crumb trail: Home >> Whistle Online >> Archives >> Mar. 5, 2007

Symposium showcases Computing’s new face

Elizabeth Campell
Institute communications and Public Affairs

Technologists from across the country attended the College of Computing’s New Face of Computing Symposium last week, signaling the debut of the College’s new educational and research focus on people-centric computing.

  Balch and Mundie
  School of Interactive Computing Associate Professor Tucker Balch talks with Microsoft Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie about the Institute for Personal Robots in Education, a joint effort between Georgia Tech and Bryn Mawr College sponsored by Microsoft Research. Mundie, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Tech, was on campus last week as part of the College of Computing’s New Face of Computing Symposium.

Computing scholars, researchers and corporate leaders discussed and debated topics ranging from transformative educational models for the discipline, to information technology’s continuing effect on the cultural landscape, and how socially aware research efforts are the key to sustainable innovation in areas such as robotics, information security and high-performance computing.

“Looking at the future of computing and its impact on global societies and cultures, the College is creating a ‘new face’ and charting a new direction for the discipline — one that is focused on effecting change for people, with technology,” said Richard DeMillo, dean of the College of Computing. “With the support of our colleagues throughout industry and academia, we seek to usher in a new era of people-centric computing that will broaden the base of future computing leaders and drive the scientific and cultural breakthroughs of the future.”

Panel discussions touched on the future of computing as related to key research and educational areas. The morning session on computing education addressed major transformations within computer science education, such as the College’s new “Threads” curriculum. The panel explored how academia and industry can empower today’s computing students with an expansive knowledge base that can be applied across multiple disciplines and geographic boundaries in order to achieve success in an integrated, dynamic and globally competitive world.

When asked the difference between computer science and computing, School of Interactive Computing Professor Mark Guzdial said, “Computing is applying computer science to other problems. The curriculum implications are enormous — it’s like a new form of literacy — to think about computing for everyone. What does it mean to make computer science useful to liberal arts majors?”

“To me computer science has an interesting stigma among the student body,” said Vanessa Larco, third-year computer science and management student. “To me computer science is not as exciting as computing because in computing you apply what you learn to healthcare or other areas and it is tied into our everyday lives.”

Keynote speaker and Tech alumnus Craig Mundie, Bill Gates’ successor as chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft, discussed and answered questions about the need for more government funding of basic research, the software industry and using computing to solve global challenges.

“Some people say to me that computing is a solved problem, and I say this thing is barely at adolescence,” said Mundie. “People who think we’ve solved everything just don’t get it. This morning some panelists said that computing is the new liberal arts, but I was thinking computing is the new electricity.”



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Last Modified: March 5, 2007