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Carnegie Mellon Appoints Head of Computer Science Department

Jeannette Wing, returning as head of the Carnegie Mellon's Computer Science Department. Photo: Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science will soon meet the new boss, but she's the same as the old boss. Jeannette Wing, assistant director for the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) division, will return to the university July 1 to take over the position that will be left vacant by the departure of current head, Peter Lee. Wing had formerly led the School of Computer Science before joining the NSF in 2007. Lee is moving to DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, to direct the Transformational Convergence Technology Office.

The university's computer science school was recently named first in the United States among graduate computer science programs in the 2011 edition of US News & World Report's "America's Best Graduate Schools."

CISE provides more than 80 percent of all federally funded research in computer science, according to Carnegie Mellon. During Wing's NSF tenure, the budget for CISE increased to $619 million for the current fiscal year, up 17 percent from 2007, not including $235 million in stimulus funding last year. The administration is seeking an 11 percent budget increase for CISE in the coming fiscal year.

Wing has championed the idea that computational thinking, which draws on fundamental concepts of computer science to solve problems, design systems and understand human behavior, should be incorporated broadly into educational programs. She launched a Center for Computational Thinking at Carnegie Mellon in 2007 and, at the NSF, established funding programs to advance computational thinking.

Prior to becoming CSD head in 2004, Wing served five years in the School of Computer Science as associate dean for academic affairs, overseeing and standardizing the school's nine doctoral and 12 master's degree programs. She also served nine years as associate department head for the doctoral program in computer science. She has been part of the faculty of the computer science department since 1985.

As a researcher, Wing has focused--among other areas--on trustworthy computing. Her work has shown interest in how system components not originally designed to work in concert can lead to surprising behavior when combined. In computing these behaviors frequently surface as software vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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