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A Brief History of Computing Science at SFU

Computing Science began at Simon Fraser as a Program in the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies in 1973 under the leadership of the late Ted Sterling, our first Chairman. The Program offered undergraduate courses leading to a major or honours degree in Computing Science or allowing a minor for students majoring in other disciplines. The initial curriculum was the "single-track universal curriculum" (T.D. Sterling, J. J. Weinkam, and S. V. Pollack, A Single-Track Universal Curriculum for Computing Science, INFOR 14, No. 1 (1976), pp. 40-52.). This curriculum focused on the interdisciplinary aspects of computing science, featuring a core of mainstream computing topics together with a techniques sector dealing with applications. The idea was that the core courses would be taught by regular Computing Science faculty while the techniques courses would be taught by faculty from other disciplines. The Program began with two full time and three jointly appointed tenure-track faculty members.

In 1975, the Program began a co-operative education program at SFU by placing 14 students with eight employers in a five credit practicum course. SFU's Co-op Program was officially established in 1978.

During the initial years of the Program, the faculty of Computing Science consisted largely of recently graduated Ph.D.'s from disciplines other than Computing Science plus some senior faculty who were jointly appointed with other departments. Within a few years, more faculty with Computing Science backgrounds were hired. Eventually the curriculum became more like typical Computing programs offered elsewhere.

In 1978, the Program became a Department, having grown to 8.5 tenure track faculty.

The Department's graduate program was initiated in 1979 with the approval of both M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs. The first students were admitted to the Ph.D. program in 1983.

In 1985, the Faculty of Applied Sciences was formed, bringing together Computing Science, Kinesiology, Communications, and Natural Resource Management (now Resource and Environmental Management) from the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies and Engineering Science (previously in a separate Faculty). At this time, the Department of Computing Science became the School of Computing Science and the Chairman became the Director.

The School, having been housed in several areas scattered over the campus was finally under one roof with the move to its current space in the Applied Sciences Building in August 1989.