Computer Science students work in groups.

In an effort to better prepare students for future employment, the Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering is making changes to its curriculum aimed at the Spring of 2020. When a student declares a major in computer science (CS) or software engineering, rather than choosing from a long list of CS courses, students will choose from a cluster of suggested classes, referred to as certificates, based on what their end goal is upon graduation. Completing multiple certificates will then stack up into a more customizable bachelor’s degree.

These changes will help students facilitate what the CS Department faculty refer to as “right lane-ing.”

“The purpose of this idea is to help students find the lane that best suits them. We call it this because we want to encourage students to go with the set of courses they feel most confident and comfortable in, and those that meet their career goals,” said Richard Grimmett, Computer Science & Electrical Engineering Department chair.

The required number of major credits will also decrease from 80 credits, giving students more time to spend in elective courses developing other skill sets that will allow them to become more marketable to employers.

As the job field for CS majors continues to become more diverse, CS faculty found students had a hard time organizing the wide range of CS course material into the skill sets that would be needed for future employment.

“Our hope is to provide enough flexibility so that instead of requiring 80 major credits to graduate in our department, we will have something significantly less than that. So, if you want to add some geology classes, for example, or business classes, you have the space to use elective credits for that,” Grimmett said.

The curriculum changes won’t just be a benefit to CS majors, but also other BYU-Idaho students who are interested in earning a certificate or minor in computer science.

“What we wanted to do with our current program, which is currently great at creating computer scientists, is make it accessible to all students on campus. With the way the world is headed today, we feel that almost every student will need a basic set of computer skills,” Grimmett said.

In the end, Grimmett says, the goal of the remodeled CS curriculum is to make it so every BYU-Idaho student could potentially take part in the program and develop the skills they need to be successful.

“This is especially true for those who say about majoring in computer science, ‘I can’t do that. It’s too hard,’” Grimmett said.

The goal is to have the new curriculum will be available to both campus and online students starting Spring 2020.