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.

Mark Bailey, professor of computer science, speaks with Gretchen Walker '15.

A student pivots to a new passion

As an explorer of the liberal arts, Gretchen Walker ’15 covered a lot of ground before she claimed computer science as her major. Without Hamilton College’s open curriculum, she says, she’d never have been able to experience so much and still take on an unexpected concentration. “I didn’t take a computer science course until the fall semester of my junior year, but I immediately fell in love with it,” she says.

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At that point, she was deep into a psychology major but couldn’t bear to shed a single computer science course. She didn’t. Psychology became her minor. She spent the summer prior to her senior year doing grant-funded research with Computer Science Professor Mark Bailey. It was her second summer of research at Hamilton.

“My work involves creation of a new scripting language, and implementing certain desirable features of a programming language that the current scripting languages lack. Both of these research experiences have thus far been invaluable to me, both because I’ve gained unique knowledge that would have been impossible to find in a classroom, and because it’s exciting to be able to apply the things I’ve learned in my classes to real-world, practical projects,” Walker says.

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.