Message from the Chair

This is a time of growth for our Department.  We are starting the second year with our recently  updated programs.  Our Business Focus provides a path to the entrepreneurship certificate offered by our Faculty of Business and our Science Focus allows an extensive choice of electives from  the Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies. Our programs have good flexibility in terms of mathematics content, elective choices and the addition of a number of new course offerings in Computer Science such as our recently added mobile computing course in second year. A number of tablets and cell phones have been acquired for a teaching laboratory for mobile computing. We are starting an initiative with an  emphasis on computing technologies (cloud, big data, web) that relate to computational aspects of  health care (watch for more details as we expand our  Health Informatics  activity with our new strategic hire faculty member in this area). We are continuing with our game programming specialization, now in its sixth year. This Specialization lets students pursue a specific set of courses that relate to game programming and obtain formal recognition for this work. We remain housed in the Advanced Technology Academic Centre (ATAC) building where we have close access to high quality laboratories and modern multimedia classrooms.

Utilizing all of the power and resources that ATAC provides, Lakehead's Computer Science department has its own recently updated laboratories, as well as takes advantage of the general purpose computing laboratories in ATAC.  We are very excited about the teaching and research opportunities provided by Lakehead's  high end computing hardware  with 20 nodes and 240 compute cores, a Gigabit Ethernet interconnection and GPU processing capabilities. This equipment nicely complements the three dimensional stereo projector virtual reality room.  For the really big computing tasks, we have access to shared network resources (SHARCNET, Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network).

One of the key components in our programs is Co-operative Education. The Co-op work terms provide excellent opportunities to gain rewarding experiences, earn income and acquire practical skills. Over 700 Computer Science Co-op placements have been made since the summer of 1990. Among our Industry Partners are: IBM, RIM, CIBC, Cargill, Bowater, Syncrude Oil, Imperial Oil, Canadian Grain Commission, Industry Canada, Environment Canada, TBRRI, Atomic Energy of Canada, HydroOne and others. We work closely with the co-op officers in the Student Success Centre who manage the work-term placement process. Our Co-op option is an ideal way for students to gain experience and help finance their  education.

In anticipation of the questions concerning what a Computer Scientist does and what career paths are available for a Computer Scientist, I refer you to: which is maintained by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), one of the largest international associations for computer scientists, and provides an excellent description of activities and opportunities for Computer Scientists.

Computer Science is a dynamic area that has and will continue to drive innovation. Therefore, a key part of our education is about the knowledge and skills  needed in order to capture the new technologies of the future. The following are some of our educational aims:

  • Practical experience and theoretical understanding of design methods for the specification, programming and analysis of a wide range of computing systems.
  • The ability to plan and accomplish a substantial project.
  • Experience in co-operative working through team projects, with their demands on the management of partners and time. 
  • Skills in written and oral communication.
  • The ability and confidence to learn, unaided, new subjects and to locate and critically evaluate information.
  • High quality training at the graduate level for both industrial and further advanced study paths
  • An appreciation of the environmental impact of computer and network technologies and the skills to limit this impact with innovative approaches

Our Department is small enough to give undergraduate students direct access to the professors along with ample access to high-end computing equipment.  We cover a broad range of computer science material  including current object oriented software development technologies, web technologies, computer security, artificial intelligence, networking and  related hardware technology, computer graphics, and a range of theoretical computing topics. Additionally, we include in many of our courses examples relating to current areas of interest and employer demand such as game programming, internet applications, mobile programming  and computer security. We  also provide the core computer science content for the   bioinformatics program.

 Our faculty are active in a variety of research areas (including Internet technologies, collaborative learning, medical informatics, networks, computer security, and scientific computing) with this expertise providing the foundation for our graduate program and the basis for the ongoing Provincial approval of our Master's program in Computer Science. Our spectrum of offerings at the undergraduate level ranges from the theoretical to practical and prepares our students for employment or continued studies for advanced degrees. Our graduate program includes both a selection of advanced courses and individual student research with the balance between courses and research following  one of two options: Master's by Thesis, which requires fewer courses and has a more substantial research project, and Master's by Course, which includes more courses balanced with a limited research component. Our Master's program has recently expanded with more than 25 new students joining the program last year.