Tech’s computer science department sees growth

COOKEVILLE – When the fall semester starts, there will be some new faces in Tennessee Tech’s computer science department.

The university’s fastest growing department and the second largest in the College of Engineering is keeping up with the national demand with a cluster hire of six new faculty members. Those include Denis Ulybyshev, Maanak Gupta, Muhammad Ismail, Akond Rahman, Susmit Shannigrahi and Travis Brummet.

“The cluster hire features cybersecurity, networking and software engineering experts,” said department chair Jerry Gannod. “All of this is to help us improve the curriculum, offer new courses and handle the influx of new students coming in.”

Computer science is the study of the theories and applications of computers. The field is generally partitioned into a number of different subfields, including systems, software, theory and application.

“In the Department of Computer Science at Tennessee Technological University, we teach a core undergraduate program in computer science as well as concentrations in cybersecurity, data science and high performance computing,” Gannod said.

The new faculty members are excited about the research capabilities Tech has.

“There are a lot of opportunities to do research,” said new faculty member Denis Ulybyshev. “There’s a good balance between research and teaching.”

The growth of Tech’s program reflects a national trend.

“That’s due to the creation of jobs,” Gannod said. “There’s a shortage in cybersecurity employees, shortage in software developers; it is how our society has evolved. Everyone walks around with a powerful computer in their pockets. There’s a need to have employees and developers that can meet those needs and develop those new technologies.”

Gannod took over as chair of the department in July 2016. Since that time, he has seen a lot of growth.

“At that time, there were a little more than 360, 370 students,” he said. “This year, I expect us to be pushing close to 600 students in the program.”

Other new faculty members are looking forward to the new semester.

“I’m looking forward to motivating highly intelligent students,” said Maanak Gupta, another new faculty member.

Tech’s program is unique in that graduates are ready to hit the ground running after upon completion of the program.

“The computer science program here at Tennessee Tech has long been recognized as being able to produce graduates that are ready to work from nearly day one,” Gannod said. “The president often talks about our students being shovel ready and career ready. I think that our department and graduates are a clear embodiment of that ideal. Our students are known by employers as ready to work. We have a local employer that said it takes typically 4-6 months for graduates to be ready to be fully contributing to the work projects. But our students are ready in 4-6 weeks, which says a lot about our students, our graduates. As the shepherds of the students coming in, it’s about us shaping them, helping them to develop and get ready for the work force.”

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