College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Computer Science & Software Engineering

Interviews

M Buford

Melissa Buford (mbuford@butler.edu), a Butler Journalism major, interviewed several students, alumni and faculty to give you a more informal view of our department. We hope you find these informative.

Yaw Anokwa - Senior CS major

Yaw Anokwa takes his education outside the classroom.

With a consulting company and online newspaper on his resume, the senior also combines his computer science major with both electrical engineering and economics.

"The things I have learned in CS have been more applicable to my internship," said Anokwa, who spent last summer interning for Raytheon Company in Indianapolis. "The things I've learned in engineering and economics have not been so hands on and useful, but I know they will be once I start a career. CS offers me skills that I can use right now and in the future."

Anokwa also said that the EPICS program, a service-learning component to the computer science curriculum, and the Association for Computing Machinery, the Butler computer science club, provided him with additional experience and knowledge.

"I have learned the ability to take a project from its initiation to its completion, dealing with technical issues, managing issues, and maintenance issues," he said.

With this know-how, Anokwa began his own consulting company in 2001. Working with hardware and software, Anokwa Consulting now serves 25 clients in the Indianapolis area. The company also employs fellow students as freelance consultants.

"We now build a variety of web applications using a variety of developing techniques taught in class," Anokwa said.

Additionally, Anokwa is active as the webmaster of The Butler Collegian, Butler's student-run online news source.

"In our software engineering class, my friends and I implemented an online newspaper which dynamically pulled stories from a database," he said. "This application is currently used by Butler's journalism students."

The Butler Collegian, heading into its fourth year, was ranked in the top three Indiana online college newspapers in 2002.

Named as one of the Top 10 male students at Butler for 2003, Anokwa will be returning to Raytheon for a summer internship.

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Ann Heile - Senior CS major

Senior Ann Heile, an Indianapolis native, came to Butler for more than computer science.

"At Butler, you can have so many different interests," she said. "It's not just a curriculum where all you're doing is computer science. You have to take the core classes and you have enough electives to look at other areas you're interested in."

After looking at several schools, Heile decided to take her computer science interest to Butler, along with a Spanish minor. She also pursues her interest in dancing through elective coursework.

One aspect that Heile said she has found consistent throughout her experience at Butler is the classroom relationships.

"I really appreciate the small classes and the fact that you know your professor and they know you," she said. "You feel free to go to them any time and ask questions. It's also a close department, so you get to know your fellow classmates pretty well."

Computer science, which traditionally draws male students, was a study that Heile "just went with."

"I enjoyed math and problem solving," she said. "The male to female ratio in the classroom is a little unbalanced, but not too bad. Professor Henderson is big on Women in IT - telling us about upcoming events and being a female computer science major might be an advantage in the job market."

Heile's current plans are to work in software development. She would like to work abroad in New Zealand, but return to Indianapolis in the distant future.

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Jason Mobley - Freshman CS major

The future is the main attraction for freshman Jason Mobley.

Coming to Butler by way of St. Louis, Mobley has spent one year in the Computer Science Department and said he looks forward to the program's expansion and growth.

"I really liked what Professor Henderson had planned for the future of the Computer Science department, and I liked the atmosphere," he said. "He also pointed out that he's splitting the CS degree, which is theory-based and analysis, and the Software & Engineering degrees."

Currently, Mobley said that he believes the strong leadership within the department, illustrated by both professors and students, will result in continued successes and changes for the program.

"I really like the way the curriculum is organized - it is a little difference from most schools. Professor Henderson's big catch phrase is We want to teach you how to think. They're very focused on what they want people to come out with, and that's very different from other schools."

While Mobley looked at a variety of schools, he said that Butler's close attention to detail in its programs and students sold him.

"The program is very personalized and they don't just want to give you a degree and shoo you out the door," Mobley said. "They want you to leave Butler with a foundation for a career or further education."

It is this foundation that Mobley said he hopes to plan for a career and ultimately a master's degree in the areas of computer research and consulting.

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Scott Atkin - Alumnus and Advisory Board member

Scott Atkin, a 1985 Butler graduate, took on a computer science major his junior year to compliment his interest in chemistry. Working for Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals during his undergraduate career, Atkin noticed the two fields were surprisingly interconnected. This trend continued after graduation, when Atkin went to work for Dow Chemical in Midland, Mich.

"It evolved into less and less chemistry and into computers," he said. "In the end, it was almost exclusively computers."

Computers and chemistry continued to merge as Atkin left Dow in 1991 to form SAGIAN, a laboratory automation company focused on laboratory robotics and data acquisition and control.

"We develop automation platforms," he said. "We're primarily responsible for hardware and software development."

Five years later, SAGIAN sold its robotics assets to Beckman Instruments, now Beckman Coulter, Inc.

"It's one of the largest diagnostics and life science companies with revenues exceeding $2 billion," Atkin said.

Atkin has been with Beckman ever since.

He said that the small classes at Butler provided the perfect foundation for his career. He said that the program taught him how to work, but, even more importantly, made him want to work.

"There's an opportunity for the kids to have more one-on-one with professors," he said. "Students will get what they work for. If you just want to scrape through, you can do that at any school, but it's a lot harder at Butler."

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Jon Sorenson - Faculty member

It's more than computer science for Jon Sorenson.

Coming to Butler in 1991, Sorenson is now an associate professor of computer science and software engineering. Over the years, he said that he has found that the computer science department provides an education much more extensive than just conventional programming.

"Computer science classes will help your problem-solving skills and analytical thinking," he said. "That's going to help you in any major."

Spending a sabbatical semester at Purdue University, Sorenson said that part of Butler's success is its student-teacher ratio, which stands at 14:1 compared to 35:1 at Purdue.

"We avoid the big lecture halls and the teaching assistants," he said. "Certainly the attention is important, but we also put an emphasis on problem-solving. No matter what your future plans are, whether it is law school or a career, problem-solving will help you."

Sorenson said that the department's other strength lay in a relationship with the Indianapolis community. Currently, the department deals with an advisory board of eight CEOs and CIOs.

"We have a close connection with our department and the local industry," he said. "This, in turn, provides students with internships and summer jobs and guest lecturers."

Another link with the community is in the Engineering Projects in Community Service program. EPICS was added to computer science's curriculum in 2001.

"It is a service-learning course where students work on a project for a non-profit organization," said Sorenson, who acts as a faculty advisor for the program. "Students run the show; they interact with clients; they design the software."

Sorenson said that EPICS also provides students with experience in the area of computer science that goes beyond a stereotypical cubical.

"It's real-life practice," he said. "They get to work with other students, so it builds team work and constructive criticism - in the real world you have to do that."

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