Spotlight: Alan Fedoruk
How did you become a computer scientist and what drew you to your field? When I was young, I watched and read a lot of science fiction and was always fascinated by the computers and particularly the Artificial Intelligences (AIs). We have many technological tools to enhance our interactions with our physical world, like bicycles, hammers, and forklifts but computers enhance our mental world. They help us to remember, to organize, to calculate, correlate and collate information. They help us to communicate, to socialize, to make and spend money. They help us to drive and soon will be doing the driving for us! The potential of intelligent systems is enormous and we have only taken the first baby steps.
What have you been doing in your job most recently?
In January of 2017, I became the chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computing, starting a 5 1/2 year term. So far it has been a magnificent challenge! I have spent these first 6 months rather quietly, trying to learn all the ins and outs of the job. There are lots of meetings and lots and lots of emails. I used to keep my inbox to fewer than 50 emails, but I quickly gave that up and now am happy with fewer than 300.
There are many exciting things happening in the department in the next five years including proposals for new BSc majors in computer science and mathematics. As we work on that I will be striving to continue to build on the strengths of the Department to create a positive environment for teaching and learning and scholarship.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in computing?
Computing is the field for the 21st century. There is a huge variety of interesting, important and well-paying jobs for graduates of the BCIS and the CS programs. There is hardly an aspect of our lives that is not touched by computers in some way; as a computer professional you will be in the thick of things, driving change and innovation.