Purdue CS marks 60th anniversary
Purdue University President Mung Chiang delivers opening remarks on the 60th anniversary celebration of the Department of Computer Science, (Purdue University photo: Tate Kirgiss)
Purdue Computer Science celebrated its 60th anniversary with remarks from President Mung Chiang, a Distinguished Hovde Lecture Series speaker, and department head panel.
Throughout the 2022-23 academic year, the Department of Computer Science has celebrated its 60th anniversary as the first academic degree-granting computer science program in the United States.
On Monday, December 4, 2023, Purdue President Mung Chiang introduced Purdue Computer Science's final 60th anniversary event. Chiang noted that by being first in the field of computer science, combined with the Purdue Computes initiative, the department could synergize the past to steer and lead the future.
"With strong recruiting and support of faculty, innovation of undergraduate and graduate programs, and interactions with other pillars of Purdue Computes and across Science and Engineering Colleges, we look toward a continued upward trajectory with the target of becoming a top 10 CS program in the U.S. this decade,” said Chiang.
After Chiang's introductory remarks, a panel comprising the current and former department heads engaged in a comprehensive discussion on the origins and future trajectory of computer science at Purdue.
The panel featured current Interim Department Head and Professor Chris Clifton and past heads, Professor Susanne Hambrusch and Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and Professor Sunil Prabhakar, with moderation by Associate Head and Professor Petros Drineas.
“Samuel Conte, founding head and professor, was influential in recognizing the role that the computer could play in research, education, and business and was an early proponent of computer science as just that: a science.”
Petros Drineas, associate head and professor
“Purdue University and our department are very proud of our historical role in defining computer science as a discipline,” said Hambrusch. She added, “We established the first academic computer science department in 1962 and we have been celebrating our 60th anniversary throughout the year.”
“Samuel Conte, founding head and professor, was influential in recognizing the role that the computer could play in research, education, and business and was an early proponent of computer science as just that: a science,” said Drineas. He added, “Conte also led the development of the Association for Computing Machinery’s (ACM) first undergraduate curriculum in 1968.
The event concluded with the College of Science's Distinguished Hovde Lecture Series speaker. Lucy Flesch, Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science introduced Leslie Valiant, T. Jefferson Coolidge professor of computer science and applied mathematics in the school of engineering and applied sciences at Harvard University.
The talk titled “Computer Science for Understanding Ourselves” spaned Valiant’s interests including complexity theory, learning, parallel computation, computational neuroscience, evolution, and artificial intelligence. A Turing Award winner, Valiant and his topic proved so popular, the event was standing-room only.
Throughout the 2022-23 academic year, the Department of Computer Science has marked the 60th anniversary of its founding through multiple events.
From student success celebrations; capturing quotes and stories from faculty, students, and alumni; and participating in presidential lecture series with Internet founders, Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, the department highlighted the essence of what it means to be part of the inaugural program in the U.S.
About the Department of Computer Science at Purdue University
Founded in 1962, the Department of Computer Science was created to be an innovative base of knowledge in the emerging field of computing as the first degree-awarding program in the United States. The department continues to advance the computer science industry through research. US News & Reports ranks Purdue CS #20 and #18 overall in graduate and undergraduate programs respectively, 6th in cybersecurity, 8th in software engineering, 13th in programming languages and systems, 15th in data analytics, and 18th in theory. Graduates of the program are able to solve complex and challenging problems in many fields. Our consistent success in an ever-changing landscape is reflected in the record undergraduate enrollment, increased faculty hiring, innovative research projects, and the creation of new academic programs. The increasing centrality of computer science in academic disciplines and society, and new research activities - centered around data science, artificial intelligence, programming languages, theoretical computer science, machine learning, and cybersecurity - are the future focus of the department. cs.purdue.edu
Writer: Emily Kinsell, email@example.com