With the largest number of students ever taking computer science courses, the department looks forward to ushering in a new era with broader opportunities for research and scholarship.
Zoe Berg, Photo Editor
Faced with record demand for its courses, the Department of Computer Science recruited nine faculty members in the established track and four lecturers in the teaching track over the summer and added nine new courses for the semester.
Computer science is the second most popular major at Yale, and total enrollment in computer science courses reached a new record high of 3,260 students for the fall 2022 semester, according to department chair Zhong Shao. Department of Computer Science announce New appointments on September 3rd, to highlight faculty as a way to expand the department’s expertise and meet growing student demand. Shaw added that the department is looking to expand its course offerings in the coming years, with more courses for both undergraduate and graduate students.
“As we move forward, we also want to improve and restructure the core computer science curriculum and offer a variety of high-quality computer science courses to the broader Yale community,” Shaw wrote in an email to the news. “The department’s overall goals are to train and educate aspiring leaders, conduct outstanding research and scholarship, and help transform Yale University into a world-class university at the forefront of computer science and the artificial intelligence revolution that is reshaping our world.”
This semester, the department added its first-ever class aimed at students outside the Computer Science major, titled “Python Programming for the Humanities and Social Sciences”.
The course, co-taught by newly appointed lecturers Ozan Erat and Sohee Park, will teach students the basics of programming and data analysis and give them an opportunity to apply simple machine learning techniques to different data sets.
“You might be interested in political science and not have an interest in computer science, but maybe you should learn programming,” Irat said. It may use some data visualization tools or some basic forecasting methods. [Artificial intelligence] everywhere now.”
Irat also said he’s looking to improve a popular computer science class, “Data Structures and Programming Techniques,” by adding lab sections that will give students hands-on experience in coding and help them connect the theory they learn in class with more practical skills.
In addition to their contributions to existing courses, the new faculty will also help meet the demand for education in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, cybersecurity, and distributed computing.
Professor Tesca Fitzgerald, a new hire in computer science, focuses on interactive robot learning. Her new lab at Yale University is currently undergoing renovation, but she said she is excited to hire students and begin working on the research soon. This semester, you’re teaching a graduate-level seminar on robotics, and next spring you’ll start teaching an undergraduate course on artificial intelligence.
“Because robotics is an interdisciplinary space, you really need that many people in that space before you can gain momentum,” Fitzgerald said. “[You need] Common equipment, common students, representation of all kinds of spaces of perception, manipulation, control theory, interaction. I feel like [at Yale] She has a good base and representation in each of those areas, which is great. I really hope we can maintain that momentum.”
According to Fitzgerald, the new faculty members all received a grant to start their own research laboratories, which enabled them to purchase the equipment they needed.
This year, according to Shaw, the computer science department has also been able to simplify advising for graduate university projects. Beginning this fall, the department has appointed faculty member Sohee Park to be responsible for helping students connect with professors, identify potential research projects, create initial proposals, develop midterm progress reports, and prepare final reports and presentations, Shaw explained.
New Yale students will be able to make the most of recent assignments.
Anton Melnychuk ’26, a potential computer science major, is interested in using artificial intelligence in music. He said he was excited that the study of AI was so represented among the new faculty.
“I would love to take a class or work with him [the new professors]Melnychuk said. “I’m sure Yale University has picked the best candidates.”
The Department of Computer Science at Yale College offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees.