On a recent day, the UConn Bookstore in Stamford is crowded, as are the coffee café and restaurant next to it.
People are playing table tennis and there is a student at the lobby piano playing a remarkably outstanding version of Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” that is turning heads throughout the building.
Providing opportunities for students at UConn Stamford is critical. That’s why the regional campus recently added computer science as its 14th “start-to-finish” major. It joins other degrees that can be achieved entirely through study at that campus such as psychology, economics and political science, four business concentrations, and digital media and design.
“We have to be strategic about the way we serve students, the local population, and the business community here at UConn Stamford,” says Terrence Cheng, campus director. “We can’t be all things to all people. This is why the computer science major is so important.”
The region will completely soak these graduates up. — Cynthia Lyon Marinstein
There is a demand for the major from the high school population here and also a high demand for graduates of the major from industries in Fairfield County and New York City, says Cheng.
Two full-time Stamford faculty members in the computer science program are now teaching freshman and sophomore classes, with the first majors expected to graduate as part of the Class of 2020.
“The program offers great value for students and the resources they need,” says Augusto Casas, associate professor of computer science. A native of Colombia, Casas earned his master’s of business administration from UConn Stamford in 1992.
Located just 45 minutes from New York City, “there are opportunities here for everyone, not just computer scientists. You don’t find this anywhere else,” he adds.
Graduates of the UConn Stamford computer science program can expect to have a variety of job opportunities when the time comes, say the city’s leaders.
“We have a number of companies right here in Stamford that can offer internships and provide full-time jobs upon graduation,” says Stamford Mayor David Martin. “Students at Stamford are studying in an atmosphere surrounded by individuals in the workplace with the same skills every day. That is what college is all about.”
The graduates will be a welcome addition all over Fairfield Country, notes Cynthia Lyon Marinstein, program director at the Business Council of Fairfield County.
“There is a digital and technology skills gap here in Fairfield County,” says Marinstein. “Every job has a digital knowledge component, and computer science is a basic cornerstone for these jobs. It’s a very important major for UConn to have on their Stamford campus.
“We are thrilled to have this major here in Stamford,” she adds. “The region will completely soak these graduates up.”
Casas believes the students will be able to have careers at Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other large technology companies if they wish, but he wants them to consider all options – including startups and other industries such as investment banks and insurance companies.
Casas’ colleague, computer science professor Phillip Bradford, uses a sports metaphor for why this program will be a winner.
Bradford looks at the Connecticut map as a hockey stick: “Stamford is at the base, with New Haven at the corner, and Hartford at the top of the handle,” he says. “There is talent everywhere. You have to choose how you develop it. This new program fits our city and campus perfectly.”