Computer Science

Your curriculum will be lab based, and virtually all your courses will be a research experience. You will find a department that keeps up with the evolution of computer science yet provides a foundation in its underlying principles: mathematics, logic and language.

Katherine Droppa, center, flanked by Bridget Lewis '16, left, and Lily Johnston '16.
Katherine Droppa, center, flanked by Bridget Lewis '16, left, and Lily Johnston '16.

A student’s research: coding from start to finish

During a summer immersed in computer science through a Clare Boothe Luce Undergraduate Research Award, Katherine Droppa ’16 discovered what it might be like to work in the industry. “I had often worried beforehand that I wouldn't like the sort of routine of coming in every day working on the same thing. However, through this summer experience I realized that I really enjoy coding a project start to finish, dealing with the initial issue, then debugging, and then tweaking the code to allow for any potential or future issues,” says Droppa, who double-majors in computer science and art.

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Hamilton’s open curriculum, she says, allows her to explore multiple passions: psychology, philosophy, physics, Italian, dance and French. To her surprise, she enjoys working as computer science teaching assistant – she never thought she’d like teaching.

Droppa finds advantages in studying computer science at a liberal arts school. “The writing requirement ensures that a computer science major can easily and effectively communicate ideas, which does not always seem to be the case for typical tech students. Not to mention at Hamilton all of your classes are very small, so there is a strong sense of community within the department,” she explains.

Amelia Mattern '12 and the English class she worked with during her Fulbright teaching assistantship in Vietnam.

A graduate’s progress: A Fulbright and a master’s

In high school, when her big brother told her she would love computer science, Amelia Mattern ’12 refused to believe him. Still, at Hamilton College she heeded her friends when they extolled their intro computer science course. She signed up. “Well, after about one week I was hooked. We would have weekly lab assignments that I would go home and code up in one afternoon, completely ignoring my other assignments because I was so addicted,” Mattern says.

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She’d planned to major in math and French but scrapped that idea to double-major in math and computer science, swayed in part by the quality of the instruction.

In her senior year Mattern won a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship and spent a year after she graduated working in Vietnam, then enrolled in a master’s program in math at the University of Vermont. She’s figuring out whether she wants to be a math professor and says Hamilton prepared her well for her graduate studies and what lies ahead.

‘I would argue that training my mind to think like a programmer has often helped me solve a difficult proof or find a new way of explaining a difficult concept to another student,” she says.