Diego De Jesus
Computer Science professors and students alike now attend classes in the recently completed Carole and Marcus Weinstein Computer Sciences Center for the 2021 fall semester and beyond.
It’s an upgrade for the Computer Science Department, who went from conducting classes in the Berry Sciences building to having its own building near the Becker Business Building and the Intramural Field.
Due to the increased number of Computer Science majors at Florida Southern, the program was spread out throughout different buildings on campus for social distancing purposes last year. The number of Computer Science majors at FSC has nearly tripled since 2016, according to the Department Chair of Computer Science, Dr. Christian Roberson.
Roberson’s research focus is artificial intelligence, specifically in AI application in solving games and AI players for games.
“We are really excited for the new space. It will give us room to continue to grow the program and have the space to provide students with more hands-on learning opportunities and chances to get involved in undergraduate research,” Dr. Roberson stated. “The building process has taken several years, but the bulk of the actual construction has taken place over the last 12 months. Construction is complete but they are still making various small adjustments to the building.”
The new building includes new fashioned high-tech classrooms close to the faculty offices, including an AI or Robotics research lab, a cyber range, an auditorium, a maker space and conference rooms. There’s one lounge area where the Computer Science Clubs get together to play board games. All of this is lined with white LED lights throughout the building.
Anselmis Columna gave his input being a junior Computer Science major as well as his perspective on the building’s recent construction.
“It’s a fantastic addition. It was highly necessary since the growth of the department. We would’ve had troubled housing classes since the growing number of new majors,” Columna said. “It’s a hundred percent a fantastic addition. Especially since Dr. Lewis was only hired a year ago, that’s more proof of my major’s expansion. As well as different labs with different concentrations. It was definitely necessary.”
In the midst of all of this expansion and growth for the Computer Science Department, it also received a $250,000 grant by SunTrust, now known as the Truist Foundation, to further the cybersecurity concentration and train students in new innovative ways to provide better services in SaaS web security globally.
Roberson commented on the past, current, and future uses of the grant toward the Computer Science Department.
“Part of the grant was for the development of cybersecurity technology in the new building, including a cyber range for students to use to develop their skills,” Roberson discussed. “Another part of the funding was to support initiatives for cybersecurity including equipment for labs and research, student travel for cybersecurity conferences and events, and other student needs for cybersecurity.”
The grant’s goal is to expand the cybersecurity concentration which “touched on all sorts of areas in Computer Science.” Specifically computer equipment like Arduinos and Raspberry Pis have been purchased for cybersecurity courses.
To bring more individuals experienced in the field, the grant will also pay for summoned speakers to share their knowledge on cybersecurity along with supporting events such as “capture the flag competitions” and “cybersecurity conferences.”
The new building is home to an increasingly popular pretzel stand called Fresh Twist from Pretzelmaker, where customers can order an assortment of pretzel products and watch trained employees knead the dough behind a glass panel.
On its opening day, Sept. 7, Fresh Twist had a line spiraling past three full rows of line dividers with students waiting to order.
Columna commented on his first time eating from Pretzelmaker.
“I had the eight piece mini dogs once. My friend actually ordered another eight piece mini-dogs but he had class, he said I could have them so I got sixteen. They were good. I’m a really big bread dude,” Columna said. “It was a long wait but it’s a new store and they have to figure stuff out.”