May 17, 2017

USC Viterbi Seeks Support For New Computer Science Building

The USC Viterbi Computer Science department is doing remarkable things on a daily basis,” Dean Yannis Yortsos says. “It is a transformative center of innovation, creativity, technology and academia, and centralizing it will make it that much more potent. Establishing a new facility will make a significant difference and is a necessity that allows us to continually compete and thrive within this essential area.”

Indeed, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science is experiencing unprecedented growth and is expanding its reputation as a leading national and international program for both research and instruction.

Over the past five years, the department has doubled in student size; there are currently 1,000 CS undergraduate students compared to 400 in 2011, and 1,400 master’s students compared to 850 five years ago.he USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science is experiencing unprecedented growth and is expanding its reputation as a leading national and international program for both research and instruction.

Because of this extraordinary escalation of interest in the CS department, USC Viterbi has been able to hire additional outstanding faculty, which in turn has made the department one of the most formidable in the world. It currently has 33 research faculty, 14 teaching faculty and, in total, 42 tenured (or tenure track) faculty.  Among others, the department is ranked in the top 10 on Microsoft’s academic research rankings and 12th on the U.S. News & World Report “Best Global Universities in Computer Science” list.

This evolution showcases both the quantity and quality of talented individuals who are part of the USC Viterbi Computer Science family. The Dean’s top priority is to attract the best people and create an environment in which they flourish. The Computer Science growth story is a perfect example of how it has attracted top talent. And now we are seeking philanthropic support to provide the physical environment which supports research, teaching and collaborative spaces for our CS students and faculty. 

Currently a department that is spread across several buildings on and off campus, the opportunity exists to consolidate all CS programs, classrooms and research spaces in a new building located within the USC Viterbi “zone” on the main campus. With 110,000 gross square feet planned, it will contain the necessary tools and space, will advance the discipline of Computer Science in unprecedented ways and will meet all of the University’s goals.

The consolidation will unify faculty, students and all departmental needs. It will create, among other things, a flexible research venue, a lecture hall, multiple classrooms, computer science instructional laboratories, and student study spaces. It will house discussion areas, conference rooms, office space for computer science student organizations and lounges to encourage constant interaction and collaboration.

When complete, the wholly unique result will be a permanent and necessary home for faculty, technical staff, visitors, postdoctoral researchers, students (graduate and undergraduate) and administrative staff.

The Need for Philanthropic Support
USC Viterbi is currently engaged in the search for philanthropic support to make the Computer Science Building Project a reality. The cost of the building is $90 million, and there are multiple ways to support our mission – from naming opportunities within the structure to key departmental programs that will be supported to endowment that will benefit scholarship and fellowship efforts and faculty research for years to come.

By supporting the Computer Science building project, you will be part of one of the most compelling and important departments to come of age at USC Viterbi in decades, a research and education leader in computation, information, and digital media, offering innovative environments for interdisciplinary study and international collaboration.

There are a number of imperatives and objectives that will be met through the construction of a new Computer Science building, including the ability to:

  • Create a research and instructional experience that supports the mission and vision of the school and department;
  • Consolidate services and spaces among the five separate buildings to reduce duplication of functions and resources;
  • Address growing need for funded research space;
  • Build state-of-the-art facilities and equipment;
  • Integrate flexible infrastructure to accommodate evolving technologies;
  • Accommodate partnering between other USC schools and programs;
  • Enhance distance learning and other supporting technologies;
  • Enhance the department’s identity and ability to expand its current reputation as a top program;
  • Free up previously used spaces within the five existing buildings for other uses;
  • Ability to host symposiums and featured speakers

Past and Present
Since its founding in 1968, the USC Computer Science department has made pioneering contributions to fundamental and interdisciplinary fields of computing. These include cryptography, information theory, bioinformatics, and computational neuroscience to name a few. Recent accomplishments include foundational results in DNA computing, Internet technologies, software architectures and software development modeling, human-robot interaction, statistical natural language processing, game theory, human behavior, and Academy Award winning work in computer graphics.

The department currently offers an undergraduate degree with the following four majors:

  • Computer Science
  • Computer Engineering & Computer Science
  • Computer Science (Games)
  • Computer Science & Business Administration

The department also offers a Master of Science in Computer Science with an option where students can design their own focus, or select from one of these eight specializations:

  • Computer Security
  • Game Development
  • Computer Networks
  • Software Engineering
  • High Performance Computing and Simulation
  • Intelligent Robotics
  • Multimedia and Creative Technologies
  • Data Science

USC Viterbi’s Department of Computer Science also has an extensive Ph.D. program (currently with 250 students) that prepares individuals for careers in industry and academia. Some of the many areas of research include artificial intelligence, computer architecture, computer graphics, computer vision, databases, game design and development, multimedia, networks, security, robotics, software engineering, and virtual reality.

The USC Viterbi Computer Science building project will significantly transform how the department and the university provide instruction and conduct research. Through philanthropic support, USC Viterbi will continue its upward trajectory, solidifying its spot among the top engineering schools in the world. The unification of this department will represent our expertise, enhance our reputation and signal to all of higher education that we have the tools, infrastructure and individuals to lead, not follow, within this transformative area.