Computer science to become its own department in 2022-23 school year

Computer+science+will+officially+become+its+own+department+as+of+the+2022-23+school+year.+The+new+department+will+receive+additional+funding+from+the+administration+and+be+able+to+host+its+own+meetings%2C+per+Computer+Science+Teacher+Livia+Piloto.

Nick Zirinis

Computer science will officially become its own department as of the 2022-23 school year. The new department will receive additional funding from the administration and be able to host its own meetings, per Computer Science Teacher Livia Piloto.

Nick Zirinis, News Editor: Online

As of the 2022-23 school year, computer science classes will no longer be a part of the science department, according to Computer Science Teacher Livia Piloto. Instead, computer science will become its own department and create its own curriculum with Piloto as department head. 

Overall, Piloto said she has received positive feedback in response to the administration’s decision.  

“Everybody’s been pretty positive about it,” she said. “They have been really excited that we’re going to be pretty formal, a formal department, especially my students in computer science …  And then, of course, my colleagues are super excited too, they have been noticing that, you know, we’re growing.”

Furthermore, Piloto said the computer science classes are more restricted as a subset of the science department.   

“It made us feel, like, a little bit smaller, like, we have so much to do and so much to learn, so much to provide that having to be under science was not doing us, like, the best that we could do,” she said.

Sage Saunders (’24), who currently takes AP Computer Science A, said she is looking forward to computer science becoming its own department as she believes the field deserves more support. 

“The benefit to making it its own department is giving it more attention,” she said. “It is a science, but there’s a separate way of learning it, and it’s a unique way of approaching technology that is taught differently … But now that it’s its own department, there’s going to be a lot more opportunities.” 

Likewise, Brandon Likola (’23), who is currently taking both AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A, said the new department will open up “so many opportunities” for students to discover different forms of computer science. 

Additionally, Likola said learning computer science at school can potentially contribute toward students pursuing different career paths in the future.  

“Computer science is such a growing job opportunity,” he said. “Day by day, as more companies grow and become more mainstream and more jobs are available, computer science employees and university students will have more opportunities to have work.” 

Olivia Sponer (’24), who is currently enrolled in AP Computer Science A, said even if students are not looking for a career in computer science, it is crucial that they are given opportunities to engage in a variety of classes in depth. 

“In general, computer science is such a big part of all of our lives, even if we don’t really realize it,” she said. “It plays a role in everything we do, so I think educating students about it and just making them aware of how things work, regardless of if they want to pursue a profession, is really important.” 

According to Piloto, gender can unfortunately influence one’s exposure to computer science courses. For example, according to Computer Science Teacher Kent Collins, in the 2007-08 school year, the male to female ratio of students enrolled in the Introduction to Programming course was 8-to-0. In the 2021-22 school year, the ratio is 61-to-36. 

Piloto said, generally, computer science courses tend to include fewer female students than male students as men are more likely to experience exposure to programming at a younger age.

“We see a lot of girls getting really excited about intro to programming but then realize that their peers sitting right next to them have been programming since middle school because their dad told them about programming or because there was an after school program that appealed to them because it had to do with video games,” she said. 

For instance, Likola said he grew passionate about computer science as a child. 

“Since I was young I enjoyed gaming and doing these kind of coding games and, like, learning computer science,” he said. 

Saunders said although she has not experienced a lack of exposure to computer science topics, more female students are likely to become involved if they were provided more opportunities to branch out academically. 

“I can’t speak for everyone else’s experience, but I would think a lot more females would join or be a part of the program if they were encouraged to pursue a wider range of things,” she said. 

Piloto said the key to increasing female participation in computer science courses is to “expose girls at an earlier age for them to be at a level playing field when they’re in more advanced classes.” 

In addition, Piloto said she hopes that by receiving her new position as department head, she will encourage younger girls to take interest and become involved earlier. 

“What I’m hoping with my leadership is that I could also be an example for students in the Middle School and in the Lower School to be able to say ‘Oh wow! There is a female as head of Computer Science,’” she said. “Hopefully, with that exposure I can bring in some girls.” 

What I’m hoping with my leadership is that I could also be an example for students in the Middle School and in the Lower School.”

— Computer Science Teacher Livia Piloto

According to Piloto, the computer science department will hold its own meetings and have increased funding to support computer science related events to be held at the school. 

Touching on the additional funding, Saunders said she is looking forward to experiencing this department transition and is “interested to see if there are going to be further courses added.” 

Likola said the funding for this new department is “much more beneficial” for students to further their learning. 

Furthermore, Likola said he is especially excited about the new changes because computer science means so much to him. 

“The best thing about computer science is solving problems and building something that not many people can,” he said. “You feel unique … and you feel like you have the power to do anything you want.”