College of Arts and Letters Engineering to Offer Digital Technologies Minor

Author: Clare Kossler

Beginning in the fall of 2015, the College of Arts and Letters will offer a new minor in Computing and Digital Technologies (CDT), which is designed to supplement a traditional liberal arts education with technical instruction.

Charles Crowell, associate professor of psychology and director of the minor, said the program will provide “more than a casual exposure to technology, which means that not only will you understand it, but you will also utilize it, and it can become a springboard for your job search and your professional activities later on.”

“There’s little doubt that the world is going digital and increasingly so,” Crowell said. “People need to understand what digital technologies are and how they’re utilized.”

He said the CDT minor was created on the recommendations of an advisory committee convened to review the 35-year-old Computer Applications Program (CAPP) supplementary major. Before the creation of the CDT minor, CAPP was the primary program through which Arts and Letters students gained exposure to technical training, Crowell said.

“It was decided that we needed to make a few changes and what that culminated in was the creation of a new program that will, in essence, replace CAPP at the end of this academic year,” he said.

A distinguishing feature of the CDT minor is the interdepartmental collaboration between the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Letters, Duda Family Professor of Engineering Patrick Flynn said.

Flynn said the minor will consist of a two-course core sequence in the programming language Python and three additional elective courses in a variety of disciplines that will build off of the material learned in the core sequence.

“The idea was to provide a programming foundation to everyone in the program, so that at the end, regardless of what electives they chose, they at least have a fairly comprehensive exposure to a programming environment and the opportunity to have done some interesting things with it,” he said.

Flynn, who will teach both core programming courses, said the CDT minor will provide students with technical skills that can be applied to every major and course of study.

“Motivating the CDT program is a realization that computing is basically present in every discipline in one form or another,” he said.

According to the website for the CDT minor, students can specialize in one of six tracks – User Interface and Experience, Cyber Safety and Security, Digital Humanities, Digital Arts, Cognitive Science and Technology Development and Management. Professor of English Matthew Wilkens, who will teach two courses in the Digital Humanities track next year, said the programming and technical knowledge taught in the CDT minor will prepare Arts and Letters students to be better scholars and prospective employees.

“There’s a lot of demand for people who come out of an undergraduate program with this combination of talents — of real analytical ability, of power and effectiveness in communication and technical and quantitative analytical ability too,” he said. “That’s a really powerful combination for all kinds of things.”