History of Computing at RIT
extraordinary reductions in the unit costs of processing, storage, and networking, computing has become ubiquitous. In parallel, due to the almost limitless scope of software-based applications, computing also has become pervasive. Together with the emergence of the Internet, these forces define an inflection point in the history of computing: an irreversible global shift to the use of digital platforms in most of society's endeavors. In turn, this shift is driving the escalating demands for qualified computing and network professionals. These demands show no signs of abating; indeed, continuing advancements in computing technology and the resulting expansion of computer use guarantee robust demand for computing professionals into the foreseeable future.
At RIT, evidence of this demand is visible in the formation and growth of computing programs that initially took place in the College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST). Formed in the early 1970s, the computer science (CS) department has grown and prospered to become one of the largest and best in the nation. Computer science is the core discipline that gave rise to and supports other academic computing disciplines. Several departments have split from CS and prospered on their own, such as computer engineering, management information systems (MIS), information technology, and software engineering.
As mentioned above, information technology developed out of computer science. This historical relationship benefitted both departments, as faculty and students interested in the foundations of computing (computer science) were continually interacting with those who had to develop, implement, and manage the applications to which these studies gave rise (information technology). Information technology has grown to be, by far, the largest of the computing departments at RIT, and it continues to boast the highest student enrollment university-wide. Its distinctive curriculum serves to differentiate RIT from other technological institutions.
Similar comments can be made about the software engineering department. RIT was the first U.S. university to advance the argument that undergraduate software engineering was both intellectually viable and attractive to entering students. Its emphasis on process and design ensures that graduates of the program will be uniquely qualified to produce large, critical pieces of software that perform as specified.
In the late 1990s two trends were becoming clear. First, CAST was growing to the point that it was unwieldy. Secondly, the computing disciplines on campus lacked a clear identity and so were not achieving their potential. Because of this, Wiley McKinzie, the Dean of CAST, proposed the formation of a new college of computing which would house the departments of computer science, information technology, software engineering, and a new entity, the Laboratory for Applied Computing.
The Laboratory for Applied Computing, created in 2000, was designed to provide a unique and essential dynamic to the college. The Lab serves as a center to help draw together the related yet distinctive missions of the academic programs into a coherent college context by providing a platform for the exploration and development of emerging information technologies. Projects, such as those sponsored by Sun, Cisco and IBM, tend to require faculty expertise resident in all three of the academic departments. In addition, each project is designed to support capable students on the project teams.
Mr. B. Thomas Golisano, RIT Trustee and Chairman and CEO of Paychex, Inc., announced a $14 million gift in February 2001 in support of the college's creation. The new B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences was officially founded on July 1, 2001.