Bridge Program Helps Liberal Arts Grads Transfer Skills to In-Demand High-tech Careers
Northeastern University Charlotte is launching its ALIGN Master of Science in Computer Science program to address the shortage of high tech workers in the area. The ALIGN Program enables intellectually curious students to earn a Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) without a background in computing or information technology.
Students first take courses in a two semester bridge program that allow them to learn the basics of computer science, followed by a traditional MS in CS curriculum coupled with Northeastern’s signature co-op program. In the co-op program, students spend 6-8 months in industry before returning for a final semester. The program, which is already offered at Northeastern’s Seattle, Boston and Silicon Valley campuses, allows students from a variety of backgrounds—with undergraduate majors ranging from English to biology, history to engineering – to pursue a Master of Science in Computer Science degree. The ALIGN program is accepting applications for students to begin the program in September.
Computer Science Programs
Tiffani L. Williams, Ph.D., has been named Professor of the Practice and Director of Computer Science Programs, Northeastern University Charlotte, where she will lead the Master of Science in Computer Science and ALIGN MSCS programs. She brings experience in teaching Computer Science majors and non-majors alike, seeing benefits in strengthening computing experience among people working in a wide range of fields.
Dr. Williams has been a member of the faculty of Texas A&M University since 2005, most recently as an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and as an affiliated faculty member in the Interdisciplinary Research Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She was recognized for teaching excellence in 2016 and 2014 with the Distinguished Award in Teaching by the Association of Former Students at Texas A&M and the Undergraduate Faculty Teaching Excellence, respectively.
“We found the perfect person to lead our CS programs in Charlotte, who has a successful history of knowing how to reach and engage students new to computer science.” says Carla Brodley, Dean of Northeastern’s College of Computer and Information Science. “She brings passion and creativity to our goal of increasing diversity of race, gender and thought in computer science through the ALIGN MS in CS.
Dr. Williams earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Marquette University and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of Central Florida. She was a postdoctoral research fellow at The University of New Mexico and was the Edward, Frances, and Shirley B. Daniels Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. Her research interests are computational biology, phylogenetic tree inference, high performance computing, experimental performance studies of algorithms and reproducible research.
“The world needs more people trained in computational thinking,” said Dr. Williams in describing her enthusiasm for leading and shaping ALIGN. “Once you understand the computing mindset, you are empowered, you know the concepts and vocabulary, and you have the potential to find solutions to problems we haven’t solved before.”
High Technology in Charlotte
The Charlotte technology sector has grown 28% in the last five years. Today, there are more than 92,000 technology and analytics jobs in the Charlotte area, helping make North Carolina the 3rd fastest growing state for technology jobs.
“Charlotte has long been recognized as a top city for Financial Services, but at the heart of all our major employers – energy, banking and healthcare – is the shared need for tech talent,” said Cheryl L. Richards, PhD, CEO and Regional Dean, Northeastern University Charlotte. “From computer scientists to data analysts and cyber-security professionals, Northeastern is helping to prepare the emerging and existing workforce with innovative programs. Our ALIGN program is one-of-a-kind in that it allows individuals who do not have a STEM background to study Computer Science while offering opportunities to gain relevant work experience in the field through our co-op program. This creates a win-win-win as students gain academic knowledge and applied work skills, while employers benefit from diversity of thought bringing in employees with varied backgrounds.”
Northeastern University College of Computer and Information Science
The College of Computer and Information Science (CCIS) is one of nine colleges at Northeastern University. Founded in 1982, CCIS was the first college in the nation dedicated to the field of computer science. Today, CCIS offers five undergraduate, six master’s, and four PhD degree programs, plus over 25 combined undergraduate majors across four campuses.
Northeastern University Charlotte
Northeastern University Charlotte, the University’s first expansion outside of Boston, opened in October, 2011. Since then, it has grown from eight master’s degrees to 40 degree and certificate programs. The Northeastern network now includes campuses and hubs in Seattle, Silicon Valley and Toronto. For more information, call 980-224-8466, email email@example.com or visit www.northeastern.edu/charlotte.