Computer and Information Sciences

Within a broad area of design, the VMI CIS program provides cadets the opportunity to experience designing computer software components and implementing software systems as well as designing quality testing of products.

We also provide training in the securing of software systems, digital forensics and exposure to product development of online and mobile platforms. The program provides a solid introduction to the general areas of CIS including programming, database design and analysis, information retrieval, information architecture, software engineering, and human-computer interaction.

The opportunity to accomplish advanced individual or group study under the direction of a faculty member is a required experience in a two-semester capstone.

The Department of Computer and Information Sciences (CIS) is an evolutionary learning laboratory dedicated to preparing engaged learners endowed with computational thinking and the skills and vision to address real-world problems.  We emphasize excellence in teaching and provide a dynamic program integrating teaching, scholarship, service, and cadet development.  Our program is driven by an engaged faculty and an innovative Computer and Information Sciences curriculum enriched with extensive practice and rooted in the VMI mission to shape the CIS leaders our world needs most.  Those leaders are citizen soldiers with the character, honor, acumen and knowledge to navigate and affect change, accommodate ambiguity and surmount complexity, and motivate and inspire teams in a common purpose to create useful economic and social value. 

To be the benchmark in preparing citizen soldiers as problem solvers applying Computer and Information Sciences knowledge and best practices, transcending traditional disciplinary boundaries, to create and develop appropriate user-centric solutions to responsibly invent a better future.

Given our evolving world that is now irrevocably instrumented and interconnected by computer networks, deeply embedded sensors, ever-developing user-centered devices and services, virtually infinite computing power, big data analyzers, and smart semi-autonomic decision making, there is a need to broaden our historical perspective of ‘computer science.’  Our view is that cyberspace artifacts (or hardware, software, data and their orchestrations) comprise the basic infrastructure needed to allow humans (and human assemblies including teams, organizations, communities, etc.) to work, develop and even play to their fullest potential. Such basic cyberspace artifacts would enable scientists, engineers and practitioners to research, create, and implement cognitive cyber-physical equivalents to real-world objects and environments. This will ultimately result in cognitive prosthetics and smart environments with new capabilities supporting and augmenting human capabilities. 

We surmise that, anchored in a commensurate perspective of “Computer and Information Sciences” embracing the world of cyberspace, the sciences, arts and humanities must be called upon and used synergistically to develop such new capabilities but with the human condition ever foremost.  Any solutions and tools that would emerge must recognize that “tools for tools sake do not serve the human naturally” and so the needs of human ontological imperatives must be in the vanguard of requirements as our new Computer and Information Sciences (CIS) program evolves, advances, and continues to contribute to intellectual growth.

The areas of concerns that are innately CIS must ultimately result from computer-based concepts, paradigms, methodologies, and utilities that generate useful, efficient, and usable products and services.  Such areas require deep understanding of the various ontological views of what it is to be human and the epistemological concerns in how humans most effectively acquire facts, information, knowledge, and develop wisdom.  We see a primitive exemplar in the IBM Watson. The new CIS should harness and empower extensions of human physical and intellectual abilities through the use of computational thinking, aspect computing (for example, secure computing, interactive computing, collaborative computing, mobile computing, etc.),  and the synergy of at least the following intellectual domains: communication, information storage and retrieval, and data analysis for a wide range of inter-linked arenas including but not limited to management science, mathematics, biological sciences,  chemistry, physics, engineering, communication (our ERH and modern languages), military science, political science, economics, international studies,  and social sciences.

Overlaying such breadth is the further need to research and address moral, ethical and leadership issues of how to manage conflicts such as the tension between privacy and security and between economic growth and environmental degradation now expanding into uncharted realms of human physical and cognitive spaces.

The CIS major prepares the citizen-soldier for civic and professional life through disciplined engagement with information technology theory and practice.

  • Graduates will be able to apply their technical knowledge and skills to develop and implement computer solutions to achieve goals important to the industry, civilian or military components of government, or the research area in which they work.
  • Graduates will have professional and ethical attitudes that foster immediate employment and for developing careers in both the civilian workplace and for military duty. These include a desire for continuing intellectual and professional growth as well as an awareness of ethics and the impact of computers on society.
  • Graduates will have communication skills to function effectively in the civilian or military workplace and in society at large

 Students who complete the CIS major should be able to:

  • Demonstrate their ability to use fundamental computer and information sciences knowledge to design and implement software solutions to a range of problems.
  • Demonstrate their ability to use a range of application software, operating systems, and programming languages.
  • Be prepared to pursue further formal or informal learning based upon the fundamental understanding of the principles of computer and information sciences inherent in outcomes 1 & 2.
  • Demonstrate their ability to effectively communicate verbally with appropriate use of visual aids.
  • Demonstrate their ability to write both technical and non-technical materials with appropriate visual materials.
  • Demonstrate their ability to effectively conduct technical work such as software design and implementation in teams.
  • Have an awareness and understanding of the impact of computer technology on society at large, the milieu in which they live and work, and on the individual human context.
  • Have the ability to recognize and understand the importance of ethical standards as well as their effect upon the individual computer professional and upon the profession as a whole.