New Degree Combines Science and Computing to Meet Human Needs

Posted: June 6, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Probst

DNA strands
DNA strands
Image from Genome Management Information System, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Would you like to become the kind of scientist who uses computers to solve real-world problems? If so, take advantage of the College of Science’s new degree, the Bachelor of Science in Computational and Data Sciences (CDS).

The degree was recently approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, and Mason is currently considering students for fall 2007 admission.

The degree was established to provide students entering the high-tech workforce with advanced knowledge of computational techniques, applied mathematics and discipline-based science – skills necessary to excel in the technology and science fields of the future.

Knowledge in these core subjects, along with the processing power of today’s computers, has helped scientists to map the human genome, determine global weather patterns and make major breakthroughs in nanotechnology.

“The integration between science and computer technology will increase in the years to come as high-speed computing systems become an integral part of scientific research,” says Dimitrios Papaconstantopoulos, chair of the Department of Computational and Data Sciences.

“Those students with the aptitude and interest will be in great demand by organizations on the cutting edge of science innovations.”

According to John Wallin, program coordinator of CDS, and Peter Becker, associate dean of graduate programs for the College of Science, the new program offers students a nationally unique course of study based on the distinction between computational and computer sciences. It will bridge an understanding of essential science subjects with visualization techniques, databases, data mining and modeling and simulation topics.

The program will also offer capstone classes combining math, science and computation geared toward solving real-world challenges in the areas of fluid dynamics, materials science, space weather, chemistry, nanotechnology and physics.

The program already has the support of the Naval Research Laboratory, Booz Allen, MITRE, SAIC and other businesses. Wallin and Becker note that graduates of the program will be just the kinds of professionals these companies would like to meet.

For more information, contact Wallin at or visit the program’s web site.

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