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Computer and Information Sciences

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Opportunities are Endless for Spelman Computer Science Majors

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 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, who majored in computer and information sciences, 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 is its vast opportunities in areas including Web design, gaming, robotics, and artificial intelligence. The list is endless," Thomas said.

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 degree 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 said the preparation at Spelman in algorithm visualization and human computer interaction was critical to her graduate work. She also believes 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 said.

The Road to Mountain View, California

Google Inc. heads the dream job list for most young techs. Exciting, demanding work, good pay and stellar benefits plus salt, sugar and free, caffeine-laden 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 said.

The 3,000-mile trip from Atlanta to Google was a short one for the well-trained graduate.

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Computer & Information Sciences
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