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University of Otago Establishes New School of Computing

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The University of Otago recently took a step towards academic excellence and collaboration by establishing a new School of Computing. This new initiative merges two former departments, Computer Science and Information Science, to harness their competitive strengths in the technical aspects of computer science.

In light of this, the University of Otago seeks to leverage its respective competitive strengths and foster a dynamic learning environment that empowers students and researchers alike. The fusion of Computer Science and Information Science heralds a new era of interdisciplinary exploration, where the boundaries between traditional fields blur, paving the way for transformative discoveries and groundbreaking applications.

The School of Computing was officially launched on 1st August 2023 to create a comprehensive academic programme that capitalises on the research and teaching synergies between the two departments. The university’s divisional structure had previously hindered efforts to consolidate its potential. However, thanks to the leadership of Professor Maree Thyne, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Division of Commerce, the new School within the Sciences division has been established.

By combining the research and teaching expertise of Computer Science and Information Science, the School of Computing opens up exciting possibilities for aligning its strengths with the core focus areas of the university, including Health Sciences.

Associate Professors Grant Dick (Information Science) and Steven Mills (Computer Science), former heads of the respective departments, acknowledge that while their departments have been small, they have consistently demonstrated high performance. Over the years, the collaboration between the two departments has grown, blurring the boundaries between Computer Science and Information Science.

“Computing is important, now more than ever before. In the realm of science and research, Computing has revolutionised how we approach discoveries and advancements,” explained Grant.

The fusion of these two groups now creates critical mass and a clear focal point for Computing at Otago. The unified School offers a centralised destination for students, collaborators, and industry partners interested in Computing at the university. Several joint programmes are already being taught between the departments, highlighting the potential for even greater synergy under the School of Computing.

Although the two former departments will initially continue as programmes within the New School, there is a focus on developing a brand-new programme and curriculum that seamlessly integrates their strengths. Work will commence soon to align the two programmes, addressing staffing requirements and curriculum design. This undertaking will pave the way for an enhanced learning experience for students and create an environment conducive to pioneering research and innovation.

A Memorandum of Understanding has been established with the Division of Commerce, where the Department of Information Science was previously housed. Additionally, appointing a new head of the School is underway and will soon be announced.

With this bold move, the University of Otago is poised to elevate its position as a leading institution in the field of Computing, fostering collaboration and producing graduates equipped to tackle the challenges of the digital age.

The newly formed School of Computing holds immense promise in shaping the future of technology and significantly impacting various disciplines and industries. As this new chapter unfolds, the university’s commitment to excellence and innovation shines brighter than ever.

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