Say Yes to CS!

Illustration by Alyssa Long

Madison Kirkpatrick
Campus Beat Reporter

As the new year begins, many students analyze their major and career choices — taking a wide range of courses in order to decide what path to pursue. Their interests, career goals, and talents are all very important considerations when choosing a great major.

One popular technical department for students to consider here at UCSB is the Computer Science (CS) campus, its staff is always excited to work with new students and pique their interest in the field.

Dean Bultan has been with the department since 1998 and started as an assistant professor before working his way up to department chair. Professor Matthew Turk, the former department chair, stepped down from a full-time position at UCSB to become president of the Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago in 2019. 

In an interview with The Bottom Line, Bultan described his department as very collaborative and helpful to students. They work well as a team, changing quickly with new developments.

“I am proud of our adaptability and unwavering dedication to student success,” Bultan said.

Bultan stated that he believes the demand for computer science degrees has seen a major increase. This, in turn, has caused the CS department to expand rapidly. No matter how difficult it is to meet the demand, the department also has to match the career prospects of the field. The top five companies in the world — Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon, and Facebook — all have a range of technical careers, most involving software development in some way, and they are looking to recruit. 

Unfortunately, the graduate program cannot grow as quickly. Their growth is contingent on the hiring of faculty. According to Bultan, the department has hired no more than 10 new faculty in the past two years, but this is insufficient when accounting for sudden changes like when professors retire or do not get tenure. There are a total of 170 Masters and Ph.D. students.

Despite a desire to bring in as many talented students as possible and skill in recruitment, the department also faces other constraints. 

“A lack of space is limiting our growth,” Bultan said. Classes are impacted and classrooms are small, which limits the number of students that can be accepted or get classes for their major. Bultan wants this to change as soon as possible in order to accommodate many more talented students.

He is hopeful for the future, regardless of present obstacles. A new department initiative, The Future of Computing, will help establish new research centers for the CS department. One, the Responsible Machine Learning Center, will focus on cybersecurity and safe social engineering. 

Another very exciting development is the planned data science minor, slated to begin fully in two years. Two classes that are available to all students, including INT 85, are currently offered for the minor. The minor would not be under the computer science department but faculty in the department would still help teach it. 

Data science is beneficial to all career types, allowing us to gather data and optimize processes in anything from entertainment media to education. Computer science as a whole has proven itself widely applicable to various modern fields, which contributes to its strength and versatility as a course of study.

Bultan ended the interview by saying, “We are very proud of all of our students and they do amazing things.” Despite current limitations, he is hopeful and optimistic about the future of the CS department.

To learn more about UCSB’s Computer Science department and all of their exciting developments, visit their site or reach out to department chair Tevfik Bultan.