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November 15, 2002

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   Doug Ramsey, (858) 822-5825 or


Walter Savitch, Professor
Computer Science & Engineering
Walter Savitch, Professor
Computer Science & Engineering

San Diego, November 15, 2002 -- In early January, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) will inaugurate its first information technology course designed to impart conceptual, problem-solving as well as technical skills to campus undergraduate students.

The Winter-quarter course, called "Fluency in Information Technology," is the first created by the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Department in a series of courses on information technology to be offered under the auspices of a new Center for Information Technology (CITE). The Center, now in the planning stages, stems from widespread interest among faculty from disciplines ranging from engineering, sciences and social sciences, to arts and humanities. "Conceptual understanding of information technology is crucial to our students at UCSD as our society is fundamentally influenced by the pervasiveness of information technology," said CSE chair Ramamohan Paturi. "Knowledge of information technology is now as important as basic mathematical and language skills for all college students, so we decided to take the initiative and develop a curriculum to promote information technology education among undergraduates."

The course will be taught by Walter Savitch, a long-time professor of computer science and engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering. "My hope is that students will come away both with a sense of wonder about information technology as well as an appreciation for the challenges and opportunities modern computation presents to society," said Savitch. Class topics will include a review of how rapidly the technology is developing; an exploration of 'capacity issues' such as scaling demands for computer resources including memory and storage; security, privacy, and ethical issues; and the spread of Internet computing.

"This will not be a how-to class," said Savitch, "but the work will contain a lab component with instruction to enable students to complete their assignments." For example, Savitch expects to teach some HTML programming as well as an introduction to Adobe Photoshop so that each student can develop a "fictitious" Web page, emphasizing the point that "not all information on the Web can be trusted," added Savitch. "Each of these Web pages will be required to contain some fictitious data presented as fact, or as misleading information."

The class will be included in the basic education requirements within Sixth College, UCSD's newest undergraduate campus. The college welcomed its first class of students in September 2002. "Our theme is technology, art and culture, and information technology is central to all three elements," said Gabriele Wienhausen, Provost of Sixth College. "This course will play an important role in giving all our students the common skills they will need to explore new technologies and create a learning community that reaches beyond the campus." CSE chair Paturi is hopeful that interest will spread to other colleges and departments as well, and he expects that one day "Fluency in IT" will be a campus-wide requirement.

Savitch is a leading expert in computational linguistics and complexity theory. He is widely known for his books on programming languages, including "Java: An Introduction to Computer Science and Programming" (Prentice-Hall, 2nd Edition, 2002); "Absolute C++" (Addison-Wesley, 2002); and "Problem Solving with C++: The Object of Programming" (Addison-Wesley, 2nd Edition, 1998). Savitch served as director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Cognitive Science at UCSD for over ten years.

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