History of the Department of Computer Science

In January of 1984, Dr. Hira Narang was recruited to head the computer science department. In 1990 the Information Systems option was added to the department. This curriculum was developed to prepare students in the area of designing and managing software applications in a business environment. In 2001, the two options – General Computer Science and Information Systems – became two options for Computer Science degree.

In 1991, the computer science department along with the mathematics department, offered a Penn Foundation supported summer program, FMACS (Freshman Mathematics and Computer Science), for recent high schools graduates with an interest in majoring in mathematics or computer science. Students participating in the 8-week summer program enrolled in 3 freshman level college courses. In addition to the classroom activities, students attended weekly lecture series with speakers that included university personnel, alumni, and professionals in the technical fields. They also toured surrounding corporations to gain first hand exposure to professionals in the workplace. Student in the program had the opportunity to earn scholarships and acclimate themselves to college life. The FMACS program ran until the summer of 1995.

In 1996, NSF awarded the department with a 5-year grant for Minority Infrastructure for Teaching and Research in High Performance Computing. A part of this grant was used to start the FPICS (Feeder Program in Computer Science) and PREFICS (Pre-Freshman Program in Computer Science). The intent of both programs was to build a pipeline of minority students with the skills and interest in pursuing a degree in computer science at Tuskegee University. The FPICS program was a summer program for rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. The FPICS program was designed to enrich the skills and comprehension of mathematical concepts and solving problems through existing software and technology.  The PREFICS program was similar to the previous FMACS summer program; however, it was meant for computer science majors only.

In 2000, Tuskegee University Board of Trustees approved the reorganization of the colleges on campus. As a result, the computer science department became a part of the College of Business and Information Science (CBIS). Renovations of the John Andrew Building led to the department's relocation to Wilcox-E Building in 2002. In this new location, the department had 6 labs used for both research and instruction. In the fall of 2007, the College of Business and Information Science moved to a new building (Andrew F. Brimmer Hall), which has state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, and facilities. In addition to the labs used for instruction and experiments there are 5 special labs for reserved for special projects and research. These special labs are the Robotics Lab, the Gaming Technology Lab, the High Performance Bio-Computing Lab, the Information Assurance Lab, and the Digital Forensics Lab.

In 2004, Raytheon awarded the department with a Minority Pipeline Initiative Grant to improve the recruitment and retention of students to the department, support faculty development and research, and provide summer internships for Raytheon scholars.

In 2006--2007, the National Security Agency (NSA) awarded the department a grant  of about half a million  to build the Information Assurance (IA) track in computer science. The digital forensics lab was established with this funding to support faculty and student research and instruction in digital forensics. A total of 8 courses in the IA area were developed and some have been offered. Consequently, the department acquired 4011 and 4012 security certifications from NSA and in 2012; the department was recognized to have a CAE (Center of Academic Excellence) in Information Assurance.

In 2009, the computer science department was awarded an NSF HBCU-UP grant based on a joint proposal involving six STEM disciplines (Computer Science, Mathematics, Engineering, Biology, Physics and Chemistry) on the TU campus. Under this grant, the High Performance Bio-Computing Lab was established for teaching and research in bio-sciences and a new option in health sciences computing is in the initial planning stages. Also with this funding, the department started a pilot program that uses undergraduate student assistants (juniors and seniors) to support professors in teaching and to mentor freshman and sophomore level students. With the positive outcome of pilot study, this program now serves as an innovative model and has become a regular feature for teaching basic core courses in computer science.

In 2013, the department added another major – Information Technology – to train professionals for education and skills needed to manage and secure the systems and networks, for government and industry.

In 2014, the department established a graduate program (M.S) in Information Systems and Security Management, which has currently 30 students and is expected to graduate roughly 20 students by the end of 2015 or spring 2016. This program is expected to grow tremendously and will be the biggest graduate program on the campus.