Jul 19, 2024  
2019-2020 Catalog 
2019-2020 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Computer Science

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The proliferation of desktop computers, laptop computers, mobile devices and networks is transforming the world rapidly and irreversibly. Search engines and social networking sites have provided information to and forged connections between people worldwide. Advances in areas such as the World Wide Web, robotics, video games, multicore computing, artificial intelligence and cyber security are obviously central to the discipline of computer science. However, other fields such as genetics, atomic physics, renewable energy, and health care depend upon computers for advancement as well. The increasing use of and reliance on computers in our modern technological society makes the study of computer science an exciting and challenging one.

Computer science at Western is composed of core classes organized around the study of design and analysis techniques used to write software in various application domains along with details about the internal workings of computers and networks. Elective classes in areas such as artificial intelligence, mobile device programming, robotics, graphics, web programming, bioinformatics, computer security, and video game programming allow students to explore areas of individual interest.

Faculty research interests span diverse areas of computer science including robotics, natural language processing, multiprocessing, cyber security, information retrieval, graphics, optimization algorithms, video games, bioinformatics, computer networks, and formal methods. Members of the department are involved in collaborative projects with government agencies, local industry and other academic units at Western.


PERRY FIZZANO (2007) Chair and Professor. BS, Widener University; MS, PhD, Dartmouth College.
SHAMEEM AHMED (2015) Assistant Professor. BS, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology; MS, Marquette University; PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
ARAN CLAUSON (2014) Instructor and Director, Corporate Alliance Program. BS, MS, Western Washington University; PhD, University of Oregon.
ERIN COLVIN (2017) Instructor. BS Middle Tennessee State University; MEd, Chaminade University; MS, American Sentinel University; DSc, Colorado Technical University.
WESLEY DENEKE (2017) Assistant Professor. BS, PhD, University of Arkansas.
ERIK FRETHEIM (2016) Senior Instructor and Director, Computer and Information Systems Security Program. BS, United States Military Academy; MBA, Long Island University; MSEE, PhD, Air Force Institute of Technology.
SUSHEEL GOPALAN (2017) Instructor.  BS University of Calgary; MS University of New South Wales.
QIANG HAO (2017) Assistant Professor. BS University of Hong Kong; MS, PhD University of Georgia.
JAMES W. HEARNE (1986) Professor. BA, MA, PhD, University of California.
BRIAN HUTCHINSON (2013) Assistant Professor. BS, MS, Western Washington University; PhD, University of Washington
FILIP JAGODZINSKI (2015) Assistant Professor. BS, Columbia University; MS, Villanova University; PhD, University of Massachusetts Amherst.
YUDONG LIU (2013) Assistant Professor. BS, MS, Jilin University; PhD, Simon Fraser University.
GEOFFREY B. MATTHEWS (1985) Professor. BA, University of California; MA, PhD, Indiana University.
MICHAEL MEEHAN (1996) Professor. BS, Birmingham-Southern College; MS, PhD, University of Alabama-Huntsville.
PHILIP A. NELSON (1987) Professor. BS, Pacific Union College; MS, University of California-Davis; PhD, University of Washington.
MOUSHUMI SHARMIN (2015) Assistant Professor. BS, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology; MS, Marquette University; PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
MICHAEL TSIKERDEKIS (2017) Assistant Professor. BS, Aristotle University; PhD Masaryk University.
SCOTT WEHRWEIN (2018) Assistant Professor. BA, Middlebury College; MS, PhD, Cornell University.
JIANNA ZHANG (2002) Associate Professor. BS, MS, PhD, University of Regina.


The Computer Science Department offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science which is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org. Alternatively, the Computer Science Department cooperates with the Department of Mathematics to offer a combined major, Mathematics/Computer Science, BS. The department also offers two minors – one in Computer Science and one in Computer Systems. At the graduate level, the department offers a Master of Science in Computer Science.

Furthermore, a student could pursue an interdisciplinary minor in Internet Resource Creation and Management, and three certificate programs: Web Content Development, Web Programming, and E-commerce. This minor and the certificate programs are designed so that computer science majors, as well as non-computer science majors, may gain the technical and communication background necessary for developing, maintaining, and managing websites and resources.

Declaring a Computer Science Major

Admission to the Computer Science major is a two-phase process. Students are advised to declare the pre-major as soon as they are enrolled in CSCI 145 by contacting the Program Coordinator for Advising in CF 459 and completing the pre-major application. Transfer students should seek advising immediately upon transfer to Western. Students cannot apply to the Computer Science major until they have completed the pre-major courses, namely, CSCI 141, CSCI 145, CSCI 241, CSCI 247, CSCI 301, and MATH 124.  Computer Science pre-major courses have access restrictions during Phase I registration to support enrollment goals and timeliness to degree for Computer Science majors.

Admission to the Computer Science major is based on a student’s math readiness, academic performance in CSCI 241, CSCI 247, CSCI 301 and satisfactory progress toward university requirements. Students interested in Computer Science as well as students with pre-major status are strongly encouraged to seek academic advising quarterly to ensure a balanced academic plan that integrates Computer Science coursework, foundation coursework and university requirements are met in a timely manner.

The application to the computer science major includes an application form and a major declaration card. Application materials are available from the advising office, CF 459. Students should apply to the major by the 5th week of the quarter in which they will complete the pre-major courses. Upon being admitted to the major students will be assigned an academic advisor from the computer science faculty.

Career Opportunities

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job growth in the coming decade for computer science is larger than all other areas of science combined. Graduates of Western’s Computer Science Department are employed by industry giants such as Microsoft, Boeing, Google, Amazon and Adobe while others have gone on to work for small start-ups, government research labs, and several have started their own company. Our alumni create a rich network of contacts which current students often utilize to land paid internships and lucrative, challenging jobs right out of college. There is no shortage of exciting career opportunities available to graduates of Western’s Computer Science Department.

Internet Studies Center

The Internet Studies Center (ISC) provides an adjunct program to a regular degree program. The center offers courses in website development and management that enable students to apply their major field in the world of web-based communications and enterprise. Students completing a sequence of these courses are eligible for certification. The courses follow three different tracks. Students from a wide variety of liberal arts and science majors pursue the Web Content Development track. This certifies that students have sufficient technical knowledge and skill to work effectively as web content producers in a development team where they must work with programmers and project managers to produce a professional website. The Web Programming certification track provides a deeper technical program for CS majors to master programming skills pertinent to content delivery in large, dynamic websites. Finally, the E-commerce certification track, offered in conjunction with the Finance, Marketing and Decision Sciences department of the College of Business and Economics, provides students with in-depth knowledge of large website management for e-commerce and other enterprise applications.

Those students interested in Web development but not seeking certification may take a set of courses that leads to a minor in internet resource creation and management. This minor complements degrees in disciplines outside computing, providing students with the ability to publish and maintain material on the World Wide Web. This minor will enhance students standing in applications to entry-level positions and helps increase the marketability of their major degree. The curriculum for this minor and all of the ISC-sponsored courses adapt to changes in internet technology as the internet evolves.


The department has a number of laboratories that support the computer science program. The general purpose labs are used to support the teaching of first year classes and beyond. These labs contain modern dual-monitor desktop workstations running Windows and Linux and have specialized software installed that is available nowhere else on campus. Additionally, there are special purpose labs and equipment dedicated to support education and research in robotics, computer graphics, video games, real-time and embedded systems, multi-processor computing, computer security, data mining and information retrieval.

Advice to Freshman

The core curriculum for the BS in Computer Science is arranged such that early courses are required as prerequisites for later courses. Thus, it is important to start the core computer science sequence and supporting mathematics and science courses as early as possible, since any substantial delay will result in the student needing more than four years to complete the degree.

Mid-Program Checkpoint

The first two years of the computer science BS is based on the following courses:

CSCI 141, CSCI 145, CSCI 241, CSCI 247, MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 204 and a supporting science sequence.

If these courses and all General University Requirements (GURs) are completed during the first two years, a student can complete the computer science BS in two additional year

Advice to Transfer Students

Transfer students are very welcome to join the computer science program at Western. The following courses are not required of transfer students; however, if a student wants to complete the computer science degree in two additional years then the following courses should be taken before arriving at Western:

Students should be aware that like-named 200-level community college courses may not transfer as equivalent.

Contact Information

Department of Computer Science, Communication Facility 495, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225- 9165. Please direct questions to the departmental office: The phone is 360-650-2401, or correspond by e-mail to cs.dept@wwu.edu.


Undergraduate Advisor: Located in CF 459. See www.cs.wwu.edu and click on the advising link.


    Undergraduate MajorUndergraduate MinorGraduateCertification


      Computer Science

      Courses numbered X37; X97; 300, 400, 500 are described in the University Academic Policies  section of this catalog.

      Computer & Information Systems Security

      Courses numbered X37; X97; 300, 400, 500 are described in the University Academic Policies  section of this catalog.

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