Focus Areas

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln introduces Focus Areas for its Computer Science and Computer Engineering majors. The goal of the Department is to equip our graduates with advanced skills focused in specific areas to better position them for successful careers. In today’s professional world, computing and computational problem solving skills are ubiquitously in demand in a host of advanced technology and scientific applications.

The Department encourages students to take advantage of this opportunity by

  1. Officially recognizing students’ initiatives and effort in pursuing these advanced topics, and
  2. Regularly sequencing courses of the focus areas in addition to the required core courses.

Specifics

  1. To receive a Focus, you must, in addition to meeting all computer science or computer engineering major requirements, receive a grade of C or better in each of three courses from your focus area of choice. Customized Focus Areas are also possible.
  2. A focus can be obtained without having to take additional credit hours for your study. This will not add significant cost of tuition to you.
  3. You will be able to study in-depth, an important computer science topic, interacting with graduate students who will also be in those courses.
  4. You will receive an official departmental letter recognizing your achievement in one of the focus areas. This will allow you to officially list the focus area on your resume, improving your career outlook and graduate applications.

Computer Science Focus Areas

Computer Science majors may choose from five different Focus Areas. For details on courses for each track, see the Focus Areas section in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Artificial Intelligence

From John McCarthy, widely regarded as Father of Artificial Intelligence (AI): “AI is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence… Intelligence is the computational part of the ability to achieve goals in the world.” AI has continued to play a significant role in advanced software and hardware solutions for today’s applications such as monitoring, detection, and preventive systems, adaptive control systems, decision support systems, and multimedia and visualization systems.

Foundations

The roots of computer science trace back over a century, long before the electronic computer was invented, to a time when mathematicians began designing models of hypothetical machines that could automatically compute solutions to logical and mathematical problems. Unconstrained by the physical limitations of today’s technology, they explored the limits of computability by machine and, according to one famous theorem, also of the human mind. This ongoing theoretical study has produced and continues to produce many important and very relevant results that impact computer science today.

Informatics

Informatics is the science of information, information processing, and information systems engineering. It is an area that equips you with hands-on experience and advanced knowledge and skills for today’s Information Technology (IT) world. It has diverse flavors inspired by different disciplines and applications, ranging from data mining to information retrieval; from database systems to computer graphics; from image processing to computer vision; from geoinformatics to bioinformatics.

Networking & High-End Computing

This area explores cutting-edge research topics in developing future Internet and high-performance computers. This area is increasingly relevant due to advances in cluster computing and multi-core computer architectures, and the demands for supercomputing for large scale data analyses and complex simulations. Topics range from parallel programming to cluster programming; network and data security to optical networks.

Software Engineering

Software engineering aims to provide systematic, cost-effective, and quantifiable processes, techniques, and tools to design, construct, deploy and maintain software systems. Topics in this area range from collaborative development environments to improve programming productivity to automated program analysis techniques to increase dependability.

Computer Engineering Focus Areas

Computer Engineering majors may choose from four different Focus Areas. For details on courses for each track, see the Focus Areas section in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Embedded Systems & Robotics

Embedded systems help tie the cyber world with our physical world through sensing, computation, communication, and control. They provide computers the awareness to the physical world and help control everything from stoplights to airplanes. Increasingly, devices from vacuum cleaners to cars are becoming robots with the ability to perform complex tasks autonomously. This area equips you with both the hands-on experience and the theoretical understanding needed to succeed in a wide range of areas that rely on embedded systems, sensor networks and robotics. Topics range from embedded programming to wireless communication; from theoretical studies to building networks of systems and covers embedded systems, sensor networks and robotics.

VLSI Design

With the rapid evolution of the semiconductor technology, the practice of VLSI design has changed dramatically. In the early days of VLSI design, constraints on silicon real estate were the dominant concern of the designers. Now, using much finer geometries, designers can integrate a few billion transistors on a chip but they also face stringent constraints that include power consumption, manufacturability, and time-to-market. Topics in this area include semiconductor materials and devices, digital and analog VLSI design, and hardware description languages.

Signal Processing & Communications

The fields of Signal Processing and Communications are tightly and undeniably intertwined. Signal processing deals with representing, designing, filtering, and reconstructing signals; while communication deals with transferring information from one point to another point, the process of which usually exploits a rich set of signal processing technologies. In fact, in most problems, it is impossible to tell where the signal processing ends and the communications technology begins, and vice versa. Topics range from Digital Signal Processing to Digital Image Processing, from Communication Systems to Wireless Sensor Networks, from Computer Vision to Data Compression.

High Performance Computing

This area explores cutting-edge research topics in developing future high-performance computers. This area is increasingly relevant due to advances in cluster computing and multi-core computer architectures, and the demands for supercomputing for large scale data analyses and complex simulations. Topics range from cluster and parallel programming, advanced processor architectures, and high-performance storage systems.