Course Spotlight: Introduction to Programming

In Fall 2016, Chatham University offers the Computer Science course Introduction to Programming (CMP202), with Timothy James as its instructor. where-8th-grade-computer-lab-swx6cy-clipartThis course is an introduction to object-oriented programming, such as C++ or Java, for students with no previous computer programming experience. It also includes introductions to algorithms and data structures.

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Timothy James

Timothy James, who has been teaching college courses in technology and business since 2006, believes that “education should come with a bit of sales and a bit of entertainment.” He is currently a Product Technology Manager at Google, where he helps brick-and-mortar retailers understand how online ads drive in-store sales. Prior to Google, Tim worked in a variety of technical roles in financial services, telecommunications, defense contracting, and consulting.

Introduction to Programming teaches a logical, step-by-step way of devising solutions that helps break more complex problems down into simpler ones. In Tim’s opinion, Chatham is a small school in the midst of a lot of change, and he feels like he has a bit more freedom to design curriculum here than at a larger school. This allows him to shape the content of the course in accordance to the needs of the students, providing them with more one-on-one attention and direct engagement.

Tim believes that all students should have the chance to learn about writing code, even if they’re just the learning the basics:

 “With mobile phones, driver-less cars, smart devices in homes, and artificial intelligence, technology is all around us.  Understanding programming logic is going to be more and more relevant, and I want to make sure that students at Chatham have the opportunity to take a course on the topic. “

Tim is not only an excellent instructor in class, he also produces many high-quality instructional videos on YouTube that allows the student to review materials and instructions after class, which are invaluable resources, as programming involves many details that students may overlook during the in-class lecture. Tim’s instructional videos are available here.

Here’s what students in the Introduction to Programming course think of the course’s merits:

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Cameron Heyder, BS Sustainability, 2019

“The knowledge I get from this class is applicable to research I do outside of class. I like the instructor’s delivery of the material a lot, and the class’s laid-back atmosphere. The class is relaxed and the content is interesting. One of my favorite parts about Chatham is the direct communication between students and faculty.”  – Cameron Hyder, BS Sustainability, 2019.

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Natalie Ranft, BA Psychology, 2019

“I chose this course for my Management Information Systems (MIS) minor, and I heard that professor Timothy James is a really good teacher. Computers and information systems drive some aspect of processes in almost all sectors of  business so the knowledge gained in this course will be applicable in my career. My goal is to work as a hospital administrator and I know that computer programming will help me understand the basics of the hospital computer systems, and even ways to improve it. My favorite parts of the course are the challenge of understanding and grasping the integration of the information, and working with Professor James, because he makes it fun to learn about something that could be very boring.”  -Natalie Ranft, BA Psychology, 2019.

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Derrick Robinson, BA MIS, 2019

“I wanted to take this course because I am interested in learning how to use Java. I want to use the experience and knowledge I gain through taking this class to broaden my horizons and ultimately find out what I’d like to do with the rest of my life.” -Derrick Robinson, BA MIS, 2019

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Kaitlyn Shirey BS Mathematics, 2018

“Comfort and skill with programming are important as a mathematician and researcher. I think that taking this class makes me more marketable regardless of the direction I head in the field of mathematics. My favorite thing about this class is that we have been programming from the beginning. We do programming labs and assignments every week where we get experience with the concepts from class; practicing is clearly the only way to learn how to program, and we’re getting a lot of it!” -Kaitlyn Shirey, BS Mathematics, 2018

Chatham’s Business and Entrepreneurship Department offers great learning opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students by offering courses that reflect the dynamic business environment. Programming is a required core course for all students pursuing the MIS major or minor. The advantages to learning computer programming include gaining new skills and becoming more familiar with computers, which are critical skills for personal and professional use. Many technology companies are opening offices in Pittsburgh, allowing Chatham to build relationships with organizations like Google, and providing insights and academic and professional opportunities for students.

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