Letter from the Chair

May 7, 2012

Greetings from Bradley University’s Department of Computer Science and Information Systems.  With the experience of serving one full-term as department chair and being elected for a second term under my belt, it’s a good time for me to reflect on the past and future of the discipline of computer science and the direction of the department.  In 2011, the computer science field not only lost Steve Jobs but Dennis Ritchie, who was the designer and developer of C and UNIX, and John McCarthy, a pioneer in Artificial Intelligence and inventor of LISP.  In 1983, as a young computer scientist at Texas Instruments Inc., I remember being asked to give Dr. McCarthy, who was visiting from Stanford University, a demonstration of a LISP program that I was working on.  I was nervous and a little bit intimidated based upon what I heard about Dr. McCarthy’s demeanor, but I was also confidant in my abilities and thankful to my professors, who mentored, trained, and prepared me for that day.  Of course the demonstration went well; I was able to communicate the purpose of the program, clearly explain how it worked, and ably field McCarthy’s questions as he grilled me about algorithms and LISP programming style.  As you read this newsletter, I also ask you to reflect upon your experiences at Bradley University’s Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, that is, how we prepared you for your career; giving you the technical knowledge, problem solving skills, and communication skills to succeed.

This past academic year the department hired two new faculty members who are leading us into several important, exciting sub-disciplines of computer science.  Dr. Yun Wang joined the department as an assistant professor; her expertise is in wireless networks, and you can learn more about Dr. Yun and her interests in this issue of the newsletter.  Also, Dr. Alex Uskov, who has worked and taught at Bradley for the last six years, officially became a tenure track assistant professor in the department; Dr. Uskov was instrumental in the creation of two new concentrations in computer game technology and software, web, and computer security.   

In 2011-2012, we also missed Dr. Mahmood Haghighi’s sense of humor, gentle nature, and devotion to Bradley students; he retired from the department in the summer after twenty-seven years of service at Bradley University.   There is an article included in this newsletter where he reminisces about his Bradley experiences.  If you would like to remember and honor Dr. Haghighi, please contribute to the CS&IS scholarship fund in his name.

I invite all alumni to stay connected, even if some of the professors who you were most fond of have retired from Bradley.  We have created a CS&IS department Facebook page which is just waiting for you to  “friend”.  CS&IS is also planning TEDxBradley for Fall 2012.  If you have watched any videos at TED.com, you know that TED is a platform for the world’s smartest thinkers, greatest visionaries, and most-inspiring teachers.  The fall event is planned for approximately two hours; we will have five presenters and a maximum of 100 live attendees from the Bradley community.  The theme for the event is “Our Connected World” and plans to feature speakers from various disciplines discussing how communications technology has enabled new discoveries in science and research, new forms of artistic expression, and new approaches to learning.  Videos of TEDx events are posted to TED.com after the live event.  If you are interested in lending your talents to this effort or have ideas for topics or speakers, please contact me and I will connect you with Christopher Glenn, an adjunct faculty member, who is leading this effort.

Feel free to write or call me to discuss TEDxBradley, or volunteer to give a talk and share your experiences with the Student Chapter of the ACM, or just say hello.