bioinformatics - College of Engineering & Natural Sciences

bioinformatics

Computer science: The best degree in tech

If you wrote an algorithm to find the best degree in tech, you’d need it to check a few big boxes.  

You’d want a degree that led to high job satisfaction. Opportunities pretty much everywhere you look. Top-of-the-charts pay. A degree with the chance to mix right-brain creativity with left-brain number-crunching and analytical skills. 

With those inputs, your program would likely say: “Get a computer science degree!” 

For years, the amount of computer science jobs have outnumbered eligible candidates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, two-thirds of all new STEM jobs are in computing — but just 11% of STEM bachelor’s degrees are in computer science. 

close-up photo of a young man at a desk with two laptop computers and a pad of paper open in front of himCOVID-19 has only accelerated the need for skilled software programmers, web developers, network architects and other jobs you can pursue with a major in computer science. 

“Companies have accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years,” wrote the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. in a report published in October. “And the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios has accelerated by a shocking seven years.” 

Everything’s going digital, fast. And students with computer science degrees are in a prime position to benefit. 

Starting salaries for computer science grads are expected to rise this year by 7.1%, to $72,173. That’s the highest among all the majors surveyed, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.  

Nearly half of the employers surveyed in the study said they plan to hire newly minted computer science graduates this spring. And those jobs aren’t just in Silicon Valley. Organizations everywhere seek out the kind of skills computer science graduates bring to the table. 

“Computer science is an incredibly versatile degree,” said John Hale, chair of the Tandy School of Computer Science at The University of Tulsa. “Every business, every organization, relies on the skills that computer science graduates bring to the table. People tend to think of computer scientists simply as programmers, but it’s a much broader field than that.”  

In fact, you probably won’t find a lot of job postings for “computer scientist.” Instead, you’ll see job titles such as “data scientist” (average pay: $100,560), “network architect” (median pay: $112,690 a year), “information security analyst” (median pay: $99,730 a year), “network administrator” (median pay: $83,510 a year) and “web developer” (median pay: $73,760 a year).  

Here are just a few of the places where computer science skills are put to work: 

  • Data centers. Behind all the websites and apps we all rely on, big data centers power the Internet. How big, you ask? Amazon’s data operation, Amazon Web Services, pulled in more revenue last year than Coca-Cola. At The University of Tulsa, our expertise in web services, sensors, cloud computing and cybersecurity gives you a leg up in pursuing work on the Cloud of Things.  
  • Government. Cybersecurity is a growing threat — and to keep people safe, government agencies need more computer science experts than they can find. Some estimates hold that the U.S. needs to boost its workforce by more than 60% to fill available positions. 
  • Health care. Computers are reshaping medicine, from the laboratory to the patient bedside. Increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence help researchers turn piles of data into leads for new treatments. And as hospitals and other organizations put patient records online, skilled computer science experts are needed to not just build those networks but to also ensure they stay secure. 
  • Retail. Increasingly, “going shopping” means logging online. The National Retail Federation predicts that online sales will jump nearly 20% in 2021, accounting for a quarter of all retail revenue. But making sure customers can find what they want, when they want it, is a huge challenge. And it’s one that computer science grads can help solve, as they develop systems to predict demand and ensure the right products are in stock on store shelves and warehouses. 

Learn more about computer science at The University of Tulsa 

The Tandy School of Computer Science at TU has been preparing students for careers like these for many years. With majors and minors in computer science and computer simulation and gaming, as well as minors in bioinformatics, computational sciences, cybersecurity, data science and high-performance computing, you’ll build a foundation for any of these careers — and discover skills for ones that haven’t even been invented yet. In our advanced labs, specializing in Internet-connected consumer devices, critical infrastructure, network architecture and more, you have a chance to participate in meaningful research early on, even as an undergraduate. 

What can you do with a degree in computer science?

If you want to know what you can do with a computer science degree, just imagine what life would look like without computer science.  

Netflix wouldn’t give you any spot-on recommendations for your binge. Siri couldn’t tell you driving directions for your spring break road trip. Your Roomba would bounce off the walls. And good luck trying to lock down your data from prying eyes. 

By 2029, employers will likely add more than 530,000 jobs in computer and information technology, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — far higher than most fields. And those jobs are at the top of the heap when it comes to pay. According to Glassdoor, grads with computer science degrees often find entry-level positions starting at $70,000, the highest of all the majors it surveyed. 

young woman with glasses seated at a desk in front of a computerAs a graduate from The University of Tulsa’s computer science program, you’ll have the skills to land a job in one of the fastest-growing parts of the economy. 

At TU, computer science majors are equipped with the tools necessary to work with emerging technologies such as cloud computing, gaming and simulation, bioinformatics, computer security, robotics and more. At the same time you put your analytical skills to work through advanced math, programming and computer architecture, you’ll also tap your creative side — because solving thorny technical problems requires flexible thinking.  

In-demand skills

While many grads wind up with jobs in the tech industry, these days, just about every sector of the economy needs the type of programming and problem-solving skills that computer science grads bring to the table. You’ll have opportunities to pursue careers such as: 

  • Data scientist. Our always-on society produces torrents of information. Data scientists see through the static and put it to use. A credit card company, for instance, might use data science to find fraudulent charges. Climate researchers may use it to produce more accurate forecasting models. 
  • Enterprise architect. Ever have a hard time picking the right technology to fit your needs? Now imagine doing it for an entire organization — often spread across different cities, states or even countries. Enterprise architects assess an organization’s goals and develop tech solutions that fit the business. 
  • Software engineer. We’re surrounded by so much technology — and without software, a lot of it is useless. The apps on your smartphone, of course, rely on it. But so does your car, your TV, your kitchen appliances, maybe even your toothbrush. 
  • Web developer. Some web developers make websites easy to use. Others write the behind-the-scenes code that performs increasingly complex tasks. And some do a bit of both.  
  • Systems analyst. A basic rule of technology: The computer system an organization installs today is already out of date tomorrow. Systems analysts help design efficient computer systems that meet organizational needs. 

Major in computer science at The University of Tulsa 

As a student in the Tandy School of Computer Science, you’ll select from two computer science majors: Computer science or computer simulation and gaming. As a simulation and gaming major, you’ll choose either a design or development track. And a host of minors, including bioinformatics, computational science, cybersecurity, data science and high-performance computing let you specialize even more.  

No matter which path you choose, you’ll get a basic introduction to computer science in your first two years, such as programming skills, ethics and data structures. In years three and four, you’ll drill down into your program, learning more about topics such as databases, artificial intelligence, game programming, computer graphics and more. Throughout it all, you’ll have the opportunity to conduct research alongside faculty in our advanced computing facilities that help put your skills into practical applications. 

 

 

TU’s Benjamin James and Jordan Sosa receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Two students from The University of Tulsa have been awarded Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation. TU’s 2019 recipients are Jordan Sosa, an engineering physics senior from Florissant, Missouri, and Benjamin James, a computer science senior, from St. Louis, Missouri.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited institutions in the United States. Fellows receive a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 education allowance for tuition and fees. Other benefits include opportunities for international research and professional development and the option to conduct research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education.

Jordan Sosa

jordan sosaSosa currently focuses on materials research and metallic materials as a student in the TU Department of Mechanical Engineering. As a TU undergraduate, Sosa has received valuable experience in physics, materials science and engineering as a visiting researcher at West Virginia University, Oklahoma State University-Tulsa and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to his academic and research agenda, Sosa has served in leadership roles for TU’s Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Society of Physics Students, attended the National Institute for Leadership Advancement and helped host a Noche de Ciencias, or “Night of Sciences” community event that invited local public school children to learn about STEM degrees.

“These experiences have instilled a stronger desire in me to pursue a higher degree so I can develop a stronger understanding of STEM and provide others with access to that education,” he said.

He plans to earn a Ph.D. degree from Harvard University in materials science and engineering in research fields of energy storage and eventually work in a laboratory or the research and development department of a materials technology company.

Benjamin James

benjamin jamesJames has performed research in the bioinformatics subfield computational genomics, which emphasizes the use of computational and statistical techniques such as algorithms and machine learning/artificial intelligence to solve biological problems.

“At TU, under the mentorship of Dr. Hani Girgis, I created intelligent and adaptive software systems to compare and cluster nucleotide sequences, especially long, genome-length sequences, as a method of in silico data analysis for computational biologists,” James said.

The clustering algorithm currently is used by biologists in multiple pipelines, including groups of third-generation sequencing reads and grouping of microbial communities. James plans to attend graduate school at MIT and work independently on bioinformatics research projects that can have a positive impact on society.