60 Years of Purdue Computer Science
Purdue has a rich history of innovation and leadership in the field of computer science, starting with the visionary creation of the nation’s first degree-granting computer science program in 1962.
Since then, the department has played an important and continuing role in shaping this rapidly evolving field. This evolution has been marked by several waves and at least a couple of tsunamis, including the creation of the internet, then the world-wide-web, cloud computing, and most recently the AI revolution.
Computing at Purdue has benefited from outstanding and far-sighted support that stretches all across the brief history of the field. Ten years ago, the 50th anniversary of the department was a time of special investment and growth as part of President Daniels’ Purdue Moves. That investment was in recognition of the growing importance of computer science in virtually all spheres of human endeavor and industries. It resulted in a tripling of our undergraduate enrollments, doubling of the faculty and graduate student enrollments, the creation of two new majors in data science and artificial intelligence, and a new professional master’s degree in cyber security. This unprecedented level of growth has also been concomitant with an increase in the academic profiles of incoming students, and outstanding and notable research successes for our CS faculty.
As we celebrate our 60th anniversary, we are extremely pleased and proud that President Chiang and Provost Wolfe have identified computing as an area of strategic importance and investment. The Purdue Computes initiative is the latest, and boldest, investment in computing at Purdue with an explicit goal of elevating computer science to a top-10 program in the country. This ambitious goal is a testament to the exploding importance of this field, and a reflection of the trust that the university has in our ability to contribute to the future success of the university. The Purdue Computes initiative will enable a strategic and sustained effort to elevate the program to the next level. Competitive for top talent in AI and computing is fierce. The Purdue Computes effort will be an excellent differentiator for our program, enable us to attract top faculty who will advance these technologies through their world leading research. The growth of our high-quality and in-demand undergraduate and graduate programs enabled through Purdue Computes will allow to meet some of the insatiable demand for outstanding graduates — individuals who will help harness the power of AI and computing for the betterment of the world.
Sunil Prabhakar, professor and head, 2010-2018 and 2020-2023
Thank you to everyone who joined us for our celebration of 60 years of computer science at Purdue University