Gianforte Family Foundation Supports Growth of UM Computer Science

The Gianforte Family Foundation once again has shown its dedication to supporting education and job creation in Montana, pledging $290,000 to the University of Montana’s Department of Computer Science. The two-year gift will help the department grow its enrollment capacity, ultimately graduating more computer science majors and minors for careers in Montana’s growing technology sector.

The generous gift will underwrite two new lecturers, allowing our department to expand sections of its introductory computing classes and create two new foundational courses. The department’s goal is to double the number of computer science majors and minors during the next five years.

The first lecturer, Trish Duce, was hired over the summer and started teaching this fall. A second will join for the 2017-18 academic year. In addition to the lecturer positions, the gift supports Assistant Professor Rob Smith‘s efforts to work with local businesses to develop internship opportunities and help students attain them.

In Montana and nationwide, high-tech jobs go unfilled because there aren’t enough graduates with computer science training. In addition, more and more careers use computing in their respective fields. To address this, UM’s computer science department worked with the Gianforte Family Foundation to develop a plan to increase enrollment and grow course offerings by creating courses that show the relevance of computing in other disciplines. These new offerings allow for a cross-disciplinary computer science minor and provide students with a broader skill-set for today’s technological workplace.

“Computer science is a growing and needed field,” said Andrew Ware, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science. “By building our department, we can help more students find high-paying jobs and fill a need in the state’s economy.”

“Computing is increasingly important across many academic disciplines and careers,” said Greg Gianforte, foundation board member. “We’re excited to work with the University of Montana to help expand cross-disciplinary computer science courses for all students on campus, and to help connect these students with good jobs in Montana.”

(text is largely reproduced from a UM news release: link to original)

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