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Computing Science: Understanding Creation Through the Lens of Technology

King’s computing science program came to fruition from humble beginnings. “When I came to King’s in 2010, the department was in flux; the program was small and needed attention,” says Dr. Andrew Tappenden, Associate Professor and Dean of Natural Science. Newly-hired professors were launched into an abrupt start with a clean slate, a chance to com­pletely rework the curriculum into one that equips students for future careers and engages them in discovering the world God created.

“Our grads get good jobs!” notes Dr. Michael Janzen, Assistant Professor of Computing Science. The program has developed a strong reputation for equip­ping graduates in their fields. “Employers want our computing science students,” Janzen adds; “There are not enough grad­uates to keep up with demand.”

Dr. Tappenden emphasizes that comput­ing science at King’s is not only about a career path, however. It’s about passion for the subject and for uncovering more about the complexities of the world. “Computing science is no more the study of computers than astronomy is the study of the telescope,” he explains. “Computers are the tools we use to study God’s cre­ation. It’s about understanding the world through a different lens.”

Beyond career preparation, the program asks students to consider their relation­ship with technology through courses like Perspectives in Computing Science. This course involves no programming and instead focuses on lectures and discussion designed to encourage reflection on the use and orientation of technology. How much do you use technology and why? How has engagement with technology changed? What does the future hold?’

“Students learn about God’s creation through these tools we’ve created that can do incredible things,” says Tappenden, “Zoom and video calls don’t come close to normal life, and we all mourn the loss of [in-person] interactions, but we have real­ized recently how much we rely on com­puters and the role computing science has in overcoming global challenges. Comput­ing Science is not about the medium, it’s about the things it can enable.”

Students are welcomed and encour­aged to speak with their professors, an element of King’s culture that Dr. Janzen appreciates. “I have to go outside King’s to really realize why I enjoy it here so much,” he says. The integration of faith through chapel and prayer can be easily taken for granted until they are missed elsewhere, at conferences or in other academic settings. “It makes you realize that we have something different.” The sense of community extends beyond the student-teacher relationship: “Faculty and staff enjoy working with each other,” Janzen observes. “I take that for granted because that’s how a place should be.”

“At King’s you don’t have to choose between doing God’s work and going to university,” Tappenden adds. “There are people who don’t know that they have the choice to do both, to go somewhere that honours both your spiritual and disci­plinary convictions. I’m blessed to work in a department that honours identity, curi­osity about the world, and the ways God has wired people with different interests.”

For Dr. Tappenden, the holistic approach he finds at King’s is the cornerstone of teaching computing science. “Everywhere you look, you are using some sort of system,” he concludes. “We are preparing students for careers, but in a way that says jobs, skills, interest, and faith convic­tions all matter.”

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