David Cheriton: Making Everything Compute
UBC alumnus and Vancouver native Dr. David Cheriton donated $7.5 million to create a new chair in computer science and develop ‘computational thinking’ throughout the campus.
It’s the first endowed chair for the Department of Computer Science and will hire a senior researcher for computer systems, a field that presents ‘new technical challenges’ regarding reliability, privacy and security on mobile devices and cloud computing services that host social network, e-commerce and on-line entertainment platforms.
As a professor of computer science at Stanford University, Cherion is also a business mentor and astute technology investor; in 1998 he was a founding investor in startup company, Google.
The funding is buttressed with $535,800 to create a new first-year course in computational thinking. The aim: make such thinking as ubiquitous as reading and writing to allow a skill set operable by all students, not just computer geeks and nerds. In his view, it’s “a thinking discipline I regard as key to a twenty-first century education.”
‘Computational thinking’ is a versatile, broadly applicable approach to problem solving and understanding rooted in the concepts and techniques of computer science. It frames scientific questions in structured ways so that computers can help solve them, and to obtain models of our world from available data. For example, computational thinking can help uncover patterns in large data sets, such as genetic causes of cancer.
The computational thinking course is set for September 2016 and will teach students to solve problems using computer science techniques.