Home > Opinion > What should I major in? Throughout this academic year, The Rider will explore the programs of study at UTRGV. This is the second in a series. The Rider interviewed Undergraduate Coordinator and computer science Associate Professor Emmett Tomai for information.
Opinion

What should I major in? Throughout this academic year, The Rider will explore the programs of study at UTRGV. This is the second in a series. The Rider interviewed Undergraduate Coordinator and computer science Associate Professor Emmett Tomai for information.

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Major: Computer science

School: College of Engineering and Computer Science

Department Chair: Zhixiang Chen

Prerequisites: Calculus 1

Total credit hours needed to graduate: 125

What is computer science? “Computer science is concerned with studying what is possible with computers. So, in a practical sense, it is about making things with computer systems. Computers run the world, and the people who know how to run them are in good shape for the future. It is not just about writing programs for today, but also thinking about what are the limitations of what is and is not possible for the future. That’s where the science comes in. We’re studying computation as an idea and then we are also creating cool things like the internet.”

Which classes should students expect to take? “So, in engineering majors, there is a progression through classes. All students start with an introductory sequence where they learn the base of all engineering. Then, the upper sequence is where they can choose their area of interest. So, in the upper sequence there are classes such as databases, web development, game development, artificial intelligence, visualization, security and networking. There is a range of different areas you can specialize in. You have elective choices towards the end where you kind of choose what you want to go into. For engineering, there is a generous amount of electives allowed where you get up to seven classes where you’re choosing what you want to take.”

What are some possible careers with this degree? “There are a lot of entrepreneurial possibilities with computing like the Silicon Valley stuff. You can be a freelance developer who creates systems for people. You could also work for any large company as a software developer. A lot of students intern with Walmart because we have a connection there and they are such a big company that they develop a lot of software for their own use, package software development like the software we use. It’s common, as a career path, to start as a programmer and then move into a management role where you manage a tech team. There is also a game developer, but it’s one of the harder jobs to get into. There’s also a lot of active research, so most people go onto graduate school to study stuff like bioinformatics, which is computer science and medical combined.”

Which skills will students learn by the time they graduate? “The students will learn programming, math, analysis, problem solving and other things of that nature.”

What salary can a student expect to earn after graduation? “Computing, in general, tends to rank in the top five careers to have in terms of salary and quality of life. There are a ton of opportunities with computing. You would expect starting salaries to be in standard engineering to be in the $60,000-$80,000 range. It varies wildly based off what you go into.”

Student clubs related to the major: “Yes, ACM, Association for Computing Machinery, is our longest lasting club. There is also an ACMW group for women, which is a diversely focused group. We have a newer club called Hack and Make. There are regional hack-a-thons that they have been active in the past few years. They go up to Dallas or Houston for competition on weekends where they make something and show it off.”

For more information: contact Emmett Tomai, undergraduate coordinator, at emmett.tomai@utrgv.edu or call 655-7229.

–Compiled by Sarah Carvajal

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