5-minute Professor: Chris Starr

By | January 27, 2011


Check out our informal Q&A with Chris Starr, director and associate professor of the College’s cutting-edge Computer Science program.  Starr has grown the program to be one of the best in the country forging relationships with industry leaders like Google.

Q:  What role does the College of Charleston play in your life?

A:  A big piece of my life, not just my career, is here at the College of Charleston.  My parents went to the College, so I knew I would as well.  I arrived in 1979 and was a math major. I took my first programming course in computer science and really enjoyed the problem-solving and computational elements. I was also fascinated with the application of computer science in the medical field.  After graduation, I entered MUSC’s medical imagery program to pursue a Ph.D in radiology. But in August of 1987, Dick Crosby, Ph.D the Computer Science department’s first director, called me to see if I’d join the faculty.  I started a week later and have been here ever since.

Q: What do you think defines a College of Charleston education?

A: I truly believe it is our small student to faculty ratio.  When I was a student, even at 18 years old, I knew the faculty cared about me.  We provide a more personalized education here at the College.  Our faculty know our students – their strengths, their weaknesses and we challenge them to excel. We begin to build relationships with our students on the first day of class and take great care in their transition to careers or graduate school.

Q: What are you excited about what’s happening in Computer Science these days?

A: I am excited about our brand new major, Computing in the Arts, available in the fall of 2011.  From contemporary music-, art- and theatre-production, to creating new forms of animation and digital media, to invigorating the visual and audio systems of tomorrow’s computers, to inventing revolutionary internet applications, Computing in the Arts (CITA) at the College of Charleston will prepare students for productive and integrated careers in the information and arts economies. The CITA major provides a true liberal arts and sciences experience because the students will acquire the knowledge and skills to combine creativity in the arts with the tools and conceptual modeling systems of computing. For more information, including course requirements, see http://www.cs.cofc.edu/CITA.php To pre-declare: http://tinyurl.com/cofc-cita

Q: How does Computer Science prepare students for professional world?

I believe in the value of internships to validate what students are learning in the classroom.  We have relationships with companies across the city, the state and the country and have 100% placement.  We have students at Google, at EBay, and other national industry leaders.  Our Alumni Symposium takes place each year, this year it is February 15th.  We are bringing back ten alumni from across the country.  Our alumni add value to our student experience by describing real stories of their transition from school to the workplace. Our students always say the alumni anecdotes are the highlight. Plus, it’s a great networking opportunity for our students.

Q:Is there one piece of advice or mantra that you share with your students?

A: Because I am  “exceedingly optimistic”, I always tell my students that whenever you are presented with an opportunity,take it, because that opportunity may never happen again.  I tell my students to apply this to co-curricular activities, internships with area companies and their first jobs after they graduate.

For more information about Chris Starr and the College’s Computer Science department, please visit http://www.cs.cofc.edu/about.

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