Colorado School of Mines Graduate School Insights

A master’s in computer science offers vast opportunities for specialization

The opportunities are endless with an advanced degree in computer science.

A bachelor’s degree in computer science provides the fundamentals needed to enter the field as a programmer, analyst or a host of other positions. But a master’s degree provides the opportunity to dive deep into a particular facet of the discipline, which can then be applied to various areas in order to meet society’s grand challenges head-on.

Here are just some of the areas you can choose to focus on:

Algorithmic Robotics: This interdisciplinary research area draws from traditional computer science, engineering and cognitive science and addresses issues such as artificial intelligence, human-robot interaction and augmented reality. Faculty at Colorado School of Mines are working on applications including autonomous robots for power plant maintenance, mining and mine rescue and space resources. Other applications include self-driving cars, delivery drones, medical robots and more.

Applied Algorithms: Applications in this area, which combines classical algorithms research with applications research, include cheminformatics and material science, crowdsourcing, data analytics, mobile computing, networking, security and privacy, the smart grid and VLSI design automation.

Tom Williams and student working on augmented reality

Augmented Reality: This area is about overlaying virtual information, which users can interact with and digitally manipulate, on the real world. Mines faculty and students are working on using AR as a means for robots to communicate with humans and a method for teaching programming, among numerous other applications.

CS for All: Computer Science Education: This area encompasses research on STEM recruitment and diversity, K-12 computing education, and computing/engineering education at the university level. Current projects at Mines include an on-campus computing outreach program tailored for girls across a broad age range; professional development opportunities for CS high school teachers; and incorporating ethics into core and elective computing courses.

Cybersecurity: As the world becomes ever more connected and bad actors become increasingly sophisticated, security is of the utmost importance. Master’s level research includes maintaining security and privacy across various physical and software systems, analyzing vulnerabilities, adapting to new threats, ensuring compliance and crafting policies.

High-Performance Computing: Working with immense datasets, complex algorithms, machine learning, artificial intelligence and heretofore undiscovered applications will require processing power that can keep up.

Machine Learning: This discipline uses algorithms and statistical models to allow computer systems to accomplish tasks without human instructions. At Mines, faculty and students are using machine learning to identify geothermal resources without digging, detect neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, make crowdsourcing more efficient and ethical and monitor homes and mines, among other applications. Researchers are also improving machine learning itself, receiving funding to study how autonomous robots can better interact with humans (e.g., by using natural language) and continuously adapt to new scenarios.

Networked Systems: Research in this area aims to enable emerging wireless applications via networks and systems support, ranging from hardware design to algorithms development and software integration, from credible simulations to system deployment and testing. The emerging internet of things, smart technologies for home and work and an increasingly connected world means networking technologies play a central role in a host of industries.

Not only does Colorado School of Mines offer all of the above specializations, the university also has a strong tradition of cross-disciplinary collaboration, so you can essentially create your own degree.

Mines graduates with a master’s in computer science have gone on to intern and work for tech-oriented companies such as Google, but also in a broad range of fields, such as oil and gas, renewable energy, mining, aerospace, manufacturing, materials and government. Students are also applying their knowledge to their own startups. Mines’ biannual Career Day brings hundreds of companies to campus in search of the best and brightest in science and engineering.

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