Academics: Majors and Programs

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Computer Science Opportunities are Endless (continued)

Some Spelman College first-year students may be timid entering, but they graduate as women who have discovered their key interests, pursued them and are ready to compete in any arena.

Growing up in Michigan, Shelby Thomas, 20, found her calling early. In middle school, she took a community college Web design course, and “fell in love with it.” Then her mom, who worked in information technology, suggested she study computer science.

Thomas is matriculated with the Spelman class of 2012. The computer and information sciences major credits Spelman’s “Geek Week” for introducing CIS students to opportunities at companies including Google, Electronic Arts and Microsoft.  Thomas, who served as a computer science peer educator, has interned twice at NASA’s Marshall Space Center  working on software development and conducting tests on C++ code written for the Ares rocket's flight computer. The great thing about computer science, Thomas says, is its vast opportunities in areas including Web design, gaming, robotics, artificial intelligence, and the list is endless.

Translating Massive Data Feeds

Spelman alumna Mave Houston, C’95 knows how to manage multiple streams of data, and talented colleagues. She is director of process interaction and user experience in the Tax Business Process Management Group at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Her Washington, D.C., team ensures that users accomplish corporate compliance tasks efficiently and effectively. She joined the firm in 2005.

After receiving her CIS degree in 1995, Houston attended Auburn University where she earned a master’s in computer science and computer engineering and a doctorate in computer science and software engineering. She completed post doctoral work at IBM’s Almaden Research Center where she conducted user studies involving ethnographic coding and analysis, benchmarking and video coding.

Houston, 38, says the preparation at Spelman in algorithm visualization and human computer interaction was critical to her graduate work. Plus she says Spelman’s emphasis on interviewing, resume writing, and honing presentation skills prepared her for a corporate environment. “I firmly believe the skills I acquired at Spelman allowed me to move into a director's role at PwC in less than five years,” Houston says.

The Road to Mountain View, Calif.

Google Inc. heads the dream job list for most young techs. Exciting, demanding work, good pay and stellar benefits plus salt, sugar, and caffeine-laden free feeding stations on every floor. Those are a few reasons why Andrea Roberson, C‘2009, likes her job.
At Spelman, she focused on artificial intelligence/robotics, networking, and computer graphics programming. The former captain of Spelman’s award-winning robotics team also interned at several companies before heading to California.

Roberson credits a National Science Foundation grant she won while at Spelman for introducing her to specific technologies she might never have studied on her own. “I was able to research wireless and virtual networks, graphical processors and computational chemistry,” she says.
The 3,000-mile trip from Atlanta to Google was a short one for a well-trained graduate.  

No Limits

"We have a lot of African-American women who are role models in entertainment or athletics, but we also want role models who are exceeding in technology, computer science and engineering," said Andrew Williams, Ph.D., chair and associate professor for CIS, and adviser to SpelBots.  "At Spelman, we will continue to shatter myths and cultivate leaders in STEM-related fields."