Best Computer Science School in Utah

Hans Fugal hans at fugal.net
Tue Sep 25 22:24:26 MDT 2007


On Tue, 25 Sep 2007 at 08:50 -0600, Brandon Beattie wrote:
> On Mon, Sep 24, 2007 at 11:25:17PM -0400, John Anderson wrote:
> > Whats the best (in your humble opinion) computer science school in Utah?
> 
> I'm shocked the UofU hasn't been mentioned yet... BYU from my experience
> as good as you want it to be.  There are a couple great teachers, a half
> dozen poor teachers and the rest are average (or was-so 5 years ago).  I
> found you got out of it what you put in.  I often tell people had I to
> do it over again I would have gone to the UofU.  This is because at
> times I felt like the teachers at BYU didn't seem to care about being prepared
> for leasons and much of the assignments were busy work or 10% learning
> and 90% wasted time.  There was one particular class I had worked ahead
> on an assignment and spent ~20 hours on and found it was impossible and
> went to the teacher and explained the situation and he denied it until a
> week later several other students had found the same thing.  Now I know
> these things can happen anywhere if a teacher isn't really prepared --
> but I think if you're paying for an education this type of thing
> shouldn't happen much if ever.  This is why I think the UofU may have
> things "together" a little more.  Their CS program is somewhat famous
> from the early years of DARPA and they've had more time to build it up
> and probably polish it more.  I think the UofU also looks at technology
> as an important part of the school where at BYU it was "just another
> degree".

I don't know much about the UofU even from second-hand, so I have no
idea how it compares to anything. But it may as well have gone downhill
as gone uphill. You sure don't hear about as much research coming out of
the U as they apparently did back in the heyday (though there is some).
If I had it to do again, I'd look closely at the U (I didn't the first
time 'round).

However, in response to some of your comments about BYU, it's certainly
not perfect but I believe BYU CS professors are among the best when it
comes to giving labs and class websites. Most classes you can find all
the information you need to work ahead, get to the interesting parts,
work on your own without badgering a TA, etc. I've seen a lot outside of
BYU where you are lucky to get a half-baked lab writeup 1-2 weeks before
the due date. You can't even find the class website through Google
or the CS department page, so be sure to bookmark it before you lose the
syllabus. Inconsistencies abound. You're basically expected to show up
in class where the professor will go over the fine details (be sure to
take notes) a week before it's due. He just ironed them out an hour
before, and there's still bugs.  No doubt BYU isn't the only school that
gets it, e.g. look at MIT's OpenCourseware stuff, but they do a great
job most of the time, especially from the perspective of those who want
to go the extra mile (e.g. me).
 
> I will agree BYU was more theory based, which is good if you can pick up
> languages quickly.  UVSC from what I've heard (so I could be very wrong
> because it's outdated a few years) was less theory and more application
> of languages.

BYU may be the most theoretical in Utah. But I did a lot more
programming there than have most graduates from other schools I've run
into since (from around the world). That may be a workload thing—theory
or no you just have more workload at BYU than at the average school. Or
it may be a misperception, skewed by the other trade school-like schools
in the region.

-- 
Hans Fugal ; http://hans.fugal.net
 
There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the 
right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
    -- Johann Sebastian Bach
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