One-credit class for curious students with no CS background returns this fall

Discover Computer Science provides a basic background in all the skills a student needs to pursue further education in computing.

Discover Computer Science graphic Enlarge

If you’re intrigued by computing but afraid to dive in, an introductory course returning this fall may be just what you need. EECS 198: Discover Computer Science is a one-credit course designed for curious students with no programming background. Taught by PhD student Laura Biester, the course is a great opportunity to discover what CS is all about and prepare for subsequent CS courses.

Discover CS was first launched in Fall Semester 2018, aimed at encouraging students from groups that have been historically underrepresented in computer science to explore the field.

The course provides a basic background in all the skills a student needs to pursue further education in computing. Using the programming language Python, instructors cover core CS concepts and showcase the wide range of real-world, interdisciplinary applications of CS. Students will learn how to write code, but the experience is much broader than that.

“Many people think that you get a CS degree to become a software engineer, but there are so many other options, like pursuing a career in data science, computational healthcare, computational social science, product management, and more,” says Biester. “I hope that the students in EECS 198 will be able to use programming as a tool, no matter what they do in the future!”

Course lessons are interactive, and much of the class time is spent programming and problem solving collaboratively. Students have the chance to interact with visiting researchers and computing professionals.

“My experience getting started in CS is a huge part of why teaching this class is so exciting to me,” Biester says. “When I look back, the idea that I would like CS seems rather obvious to me, but at the time programming felt very foreign.”

Biester hopes that Discover CS can help make the field less foreign to students who are uncertain about their interests or open to exploring a new discipline.

“My first year of college, I took classes in seven different departments with the goal of trying new things,” she says, “and although I learned a lot, I didn’t find something that I truly loved. I registered for Intro to CS to try something new and fulfill a quantitative reasoning requirement. I realized within a week that CS was going to be my major, because it introduced me to a new and exciting way of thinking through problems, and I saw that the range of things I can do with programming is endless.”

Students interested in registering for Discover CS can check out the website for more details, including last year’s syllabus.