UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering University of California San Diego
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Do You Speak IT?

“Fluency in Information Technology”. That’s the title of a new computer science course making its debut in January—a course designed for general campus undergraduates, not computer science students.

Long-time Computer Science and Engineering professor Walter Savitch developed the course to impart conceptual, problem-solving as well as technical skills to undergraduate students in Sixth College, UCSD’s newest undergraduate campus, which welcomed its first freshman class of 285 students in September. “Fluency in IT” 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.”

Sixth College is also getting a helping hand from CSE Professor Bill Griswold. His ActiveCampus research program was the first to experiment with wireless-enabled PDAs, and he helped arrange for all Sixth College freshmen to get PDAs donated by Hewlett-Packard and Cal-(IT)². The handhelds allowed students to participate in a multi-day, tech-heavy orientation. Dubbed “Explorientation,” it was a set of six PDA-based challenges created
by Visual Arts Associate Professor Adriene Jenik. Students responded to the challenges as they explored the campus before classes started. The wireless function of the PDAs piggybacks on UCSD’s high-speed wireless (Wi-Fi) network, which was extended to most Sixth College residence halls and classrooms before the start of the Fall quarter.