Computer Science in new academic house


Rachel Logan

Senior Sean Robb works on a coding assignment Sept. 15 in a Blackington Hall computer room.

Rachel Logan, Copy Editor

Pitt-Johnstown’s Computer Science Department faculty and staff report to the Engineering Division rather than the Natural Science Division chair.

Computer Science Department Coordinator Sandro Marchegiani, who took over when Patricia Hagerich retired in April, said there is no change in degree requirements for students in the program.

“For students, there’s no noticeable difference. The degree program hasn’t changed at all,” Marchegiani said.

The only change, he said, is administrative—a student would visit Jerry Samples, Engineering Division chair, instead of Steven Stern, Natural Sciences Division chair, for broader scheduling questions, for example.

“It’s something that has been talked about in the past and something we’re happy with,” Marchegiani said.

He said that computer science instructors have stronger ties with their industry than other Natural Science faculty have, whereas some engineering professors still work part-time in their fields.

“We have our own connections,” he said, noting that department members have ties with local companies and knowledge of position, internship and co-op opportunities for students.

He said that department members and computer science students would benefit from the vast connections engineering professors have with local companies, as well.

“(The Engineering Department is) bigger and (has) more students,” Marchegiani said, so it might have more connections to other companies who might be interested in computer science students.

Marchegiani said there has been no progress he knows of toward making the department one of software engineering.

He said there are popular software engineering courses offered for those further in the program.

He said that he looks forward to working closely with the computer engineering department, as the two overlap partially.

“It might bring a new perspective for computer engineering students working with us, as well,” he said.

Marchegiani said the department is already beginning to adapt and make better contacts with the other Engineering Division departments.

Samples said that computer science was born out of mathematics and had been in the Natural Sciences Division since its conception.

He said division members are more interested in concepts and solutions to real world problems than in research and theory expansion like Natural Science Division members.

“It makes sense that (the Computer Science Department) is housed with somebody who is used to doing that kind of professional development,” Samples said.

He said that if the department ever needed to be accredited as engineering programs are, it would be an easier task.

“Their accreditors are in the same organization that does engineering,” he said.

This, however, is not necessary, according to Samples.

“We’re not planning on getting them accredited. There’s nothing wrong with having them as they are now; those are just facts.”