The incoming class of new students in the computer science department, has almost doubled from 10 to 18 students in one year. With only three professors in the computer science department, and the continually growing number in each incoming class, the professors have been steadily gaining more sections and classes to teach with each new semester.
This year, Dr. Andy Wildenberg took sabbatical to chase his dreams at Google in New York and is loving it. Some might ask, “What is next for the department?” This year’s incoming freshmen class is bigger than previous years, which usually is around ten students, and with the new and current staff, the future looks quite bright.
Dr. Melissa Holmes has really stepped up and become the rock of the department. She also recently earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership. Gaining more classes, and being the only full-time faculty member, she has gained a lot more responsibility and has grown to meet the need.
Dr. Holmes is a positive influence within the department, she also does community outreach as a representative of women in science. “The best thing [about the job] is those ah-ha moments where I can actually watch a student gain understanding, or seeing increased enthusiasm about some topic,” Dr. Holmes says. “In the long-term, it is so awesome to watch an 18 year-old who just wants to play video games become a professional scientist in four years.” Holmes’ kind heart and dedication to the students in the department is most evident.
Having a full time job is demanding enough, but Professor Aaron Benner takes time out of his regular work week to teach part time. Benner says, “I continue to teach at Rocky because I love the students and the interactions I have with them.”
His positive view has also led him to help teach the Aikido class (a defensive martial art class), and he is a practicing Aikido student himself. “Getting to know each class of new students gives me a fresh outlook in just about everything I do,” he continued. Besides being a father, full time employee, and Aikido master, his willingness to reach out to college kids shines through.
Getting thrown into a department can be a tough start. Recent hire Bryan Stafford has really ris- en above the standard. Teaching the Language Study: Python and SQL class, which are types of programming languages. Stafford is keeping true to the computer science students by allowing more class options for them. The department has 44 current majors, so this is important for students’ graduation plans.
Stafford enjoys teaching and has taken this duty to heart. “Teaching is important because every successive generation has a responsibility to gain a reasonable understanding of the world around them, especially with regards to science and technology and for most cases in our current historical context, teachers provide the crucial link in that process,” he says. He has really filled in the gaps of the computer science department since Dr. Wildenberg’s sabbatical leave.
All in all, big changes have happened in the computer science department. These extra busy professors are true inspirations to the students in the department.