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UConn-Stamford prioritizes computer science, digital media

January 26, 2018 GMT

STAMFORD — Phillip Bradford, director of computer science at the University of Connecticut-Stamford, believes talent is everywhere. And he said the campus is investing in that talent.

That’s why the school in recent years has made computer science and digital media a priority, including a new “innovation collaborative space” (ICS). The room, which opened this month for the spring semester, is outfitted with the latest hardware and software for students to film, design, edit, and to otherwise be creative.

“It’s been a collaborative effort from the very start,” said Matthew Worwood, director of digital media and design (DMD). “We wanted to create a space where these students can interact with one another. We’ve got a diverse group of students here and they all want to pursue different interests.”

Students were diligently using the space this week.

“I’m new to this school but I love this space,” said sophomore transfer Nick Reynoso, a communications major. “It’s a great place to study with a good atmosphere.”

The space includes Mac computers with the Adobe creative suite, virtual reality technology such as the Oculus Rift, 4K high-definition cameras for students to rent, and a sound room where students can record or edit audio.

Campus director Terrence Cheng declined to specify how much the new equipment cost, but said the campus has made a “significant investment” and hopes it “will serve the current and future needs” of students.

“We are preparing a well-trained and well-educated workforce,” Cheng said. “We want to serve the needs of our local students, and our community, while upholding the academic standards of the state’s flagship university.”

Anthony Flores, a junior data analytics major, has been actively using the space since returning to campus following the December holiday break.

“It’s convenient for those who want to focus on programming, or just sit down and tinker with things,” Flores said. “It’s a good place to open my mind and dive into different areas [of my studies].”

Bradford and Worwood said digital media and computer science complement one another, and this space, along with the programs offered, will allow students to experience both.

In 2016, the school announced a four-year computer science program. Bradford, director of computer science, said the faculty is in the same shoes as the students while the program evolves.

“They’re constantly learning [as well as presenting],” Bradford said.

The program has more than 100 students enrolled in its introductory class. Bradford said the number of students who end up majoring in computer science will be lower, but he’s still optimistic.

Part of that optimism stems from a newly introduced $10,000-a-year scholarship for three incoming freshmen majoring in computer science.

“I’m hoping we can use this to attract the talent I’ve seen and cement the deal for students to stay here the full four years,” Bradford said. “I think we’re going to get some superstars. We already have really great students, and this is the crown on top.”

Meanwhile, digital media and design has grown to be one of the largest programs on campus with at least 100 majors, second only to psychology.

Worwood said it’s hard to beat psychology on any campus, so he’s pleased with the student reception to the program, now in its fifth year.

Students may specialize in web and interactive media, motion-graphics design and digital media strategies in business. And, with a computer science minor available, they can get the best of both worlds.

“There is a lot of demand for computing and information technology,” said Bradford, who pointed out these advancements will create more jobs.

“And computing has increased in power 100 billion times since it was introduced, and I don’t know anything else that humans have done that has done that ...if cars had done that, we’d be flying in cars by now. We’re on the cusp of giant advances.”

tclark@stamfordadvocate.com; 203-964-2265; @TravClark2