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Corban University

May 12, 2020

Meet Corban’s New Computer Science Faculty Member, Dr. Deborah Thomas

Starting Fall 2020, students can join Corban’s computer science program! Leading the program is new faculty hire Dr. Deborah Thomas, who completed her master’s and PhD at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and comes to Corban after nine years of teaching at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Enjoy a brief interview with Dr. Thomas and learn why she’s passionate about equipping Corban students in the growing field of computer science.

What drew you to the field of computer science?

“I’ve always loved math and problem solving. There’s a logic puzzle aspect to computer science, so I’ve always enjoyed that. I feel like computer science is a field where we can create technology that can be useful to people, such as Zoom. In the field of computer science, I get to do what I love—solve puzzles and use my strengths to make the world a better place.”

For someone unfamiliar to computer science, how would you define it?

“Computer Science is the study of how to solve a problem, not necessarily directly—so not using the human brain—but rather instructing something else, in this case a computer, to do it. It involves manipulation of various kinds of data. There are two big focuses in computer science: making things as fast as possible as well as making the most efficient use of space.”

Why does our society need computer scientists?

“Our society needs computer scientists because computers are never going away. We will always need people who can program them and harness the resources they provide in order to solve problems. Anyone can pick up the tools to learn how to program, but the discipline and the rigor that goes along with studying in a computer science program will help them make better decisions and be able to harness their resources better.”

Are there any trends in society that suggest the need for computer scientists is increasing?

“Think about a world in which computers didn’t exist. Imagine if we didn’t have tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts in the middle of the pandemic. All of the online education wouldn’t be possible, communication in general would be a lot harder, and it would be a lot more isolating. In general, computers are always making our lives easier. Because computers are never going away, computer programmers are never going away either.”

 What do you hope students gain from Corban’s computer science program?

“My goal is to give students another option for a field of study. I think it’s really important to have computer programmers who are believers, so bringing this program to a Christian university is very important. At the end of their degree, students will be able to pick up any programming language. Beyond that, they’ll be able to make intelligent and thoughtful decisions about what tools and programming languages they would need to use to solve whatever problem they’ve been given. And more importantly, as believers, they would be able to impact another part of corporate America.”

If someone were considering studying computer science but wasn’t sure, what would you tell them?

“If you enjoy math problems and logic puzzles, this is the field for you. But it’s not an easy field—it’s a tough major. You need to be willing to work hard. I was never the student who grew up taking computers apart or playing video games, so even if you’ve never tinkered around with programming or with computers, this might still be the field for you if you enjoy the math, logic, and problem-solving aspect of it.”

Learn more about Corban’s computer science program!

*Interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.