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The computing science major in UFV’s bachelor of science program was approved and will be offered beginning September 2018.

On August 25, the Ministry of Advanced Education approved UFV’s bachelor of science major in computing science (BCS). The program was first sent to the ministry after approval from UFV Senate in November 2015.

The BCS program will be job-skills oriented, and will emphasize applied and practical teachings, but there will also be a strong focus on critical thinking, Peter Geller, UFV vice-provost and associate vice-president academic, said.

“There’s at least one course that looks at the social and cultural implications of technology, so being a good bachelor’s degree it’s not just the applied skills,” Geller said. “There’s also opportunity to think about what one’s role would be in terms of computing science and digital technology within our society and culture.”

The program will require students to complete a final capstone project. In this, they’ll solve real-world programs, while developing their own project.

“This is something that would really assist with students’ employability,” said Geller.

In the program, some important concepts covered will include privacy, security, hacking, ethics, big data processing, and machine learning. Within the BCS major, there are three concentrations: systems and security, artificial intelligence and data mining, or programming languages and software.

Though ministerial approval took nearly two years, it went faster than past program reviews.

“It can be a lengthy process,” Geller said. “First it goes to the degree quality assessment board, a ministry advisory board. Following that, they make a recommendation to the minister [of advanced education.]”

“[The approval] was a long time coming, we’ve been waiting on the ministry for that, and we received it pretty quickly once the new minister was in place,” president of UFV, Jackie Hogan, said at the September 22 Senate meeting.

Before being sent to the Ministry of Advanced Education for approval in November 2015, the BCS proposal went through multiple working groups and evaluations within UFV.

“In this case, the program is a bachelor of science degree, so there’s involvement from Greg Schlitt, the acting dean of science,” Geller said. “It relies on some of the expertise that’s in some of the existing computing informations program, which is in professional studies. Gabe Murray was head of the program working group when they were working on the program.”

There are two main bodies that govern what the field of computer science is, and what a student in the field would need to learn. Geller said that during program development, the association for computing machinery and the institute for electrical and electronics engineers were both referenced to ensure the degree would stay consistent with other institutions’ programs.

Before the BCS major is offered in Fall 2018, two new faculty positions created with the program will have to be filled.

Geller said that the year also gives them an opportunity to recruit students, whether from within, or outside of UFV.

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