History of the school
In 1973, the Computing Science program was established at SFU as an interdisciplinary area of study under the leadership of the late Ted Sterling, who co-authored one of the first computing science textbooks. The first program offered undergraduate courses leading to a major or honours degree in Computing Science.
Nearly 50 years later, the School of Computing Science at SFU has grown into an internationally renowned and high-ranked program comprised of world-class researchers, talented instructors and an enthusiastic group of staff, all dedicated to the success of students and advancing knowledge dissemination and cutting-edge research in computer science.
In 1975, 14 students were placed with eight employers in a five-credit practicum course as part of the computing science co-operative education program. SFU's official co-op Program was established in 1978.
New department, faculty and school
In 1978, the Computing Science Program became the Department of Computing Science, having grown to 8.5 full-time tenure track faculty. The following year, the department's graduate program started with the approval of MSc and PhD thesis programs.
In 1985 the Faculty of Applied Sciences was formed and was comprised of Computing Science, Engineering Science, Kinesiology, Communications, and Natural Resource Management (now called the Faculty of Environment).
A New Home
In 1989, after being in multiple locations around the campus, the School of Computing Science moved into its current space in the Applied Sciences Building. In 2005, the school expanded into the adjacent Technology and Science Complex (TASC 1).
In 2008, the School launched the Software Systems Program, focusing on teaching students the skills to develop high quality software.
In 2014, the School launched the Professional Masters in Big Data Program, the first program of its kind in Canada. By 2020, the program expanded to the Professional Master’s Program in Computer Science and included three concentrations: big data, visual computing and cybersecurity.
Notable landmarks in computing science at SFU
|1969||A brand new IBM card punch machine is set up in the library basement.|
|1970||Computer Science faculty Ted Sterling and Sy Pollack publish one of the first Computing Science textbooks.|
|1973||Computing Science program launches at SFU.|
|1975||Co-operative education is introduced.|
|1981||Computing Science graduates convince faculty to buy some of the first Unix servers, prompting a switch from a mainframe computer system to a network of Sun workstations running Unix.|
|1983||The first students were admitted to our Graduate Program.|
|1985||Lou Hafer and Nick Cercone set up the CSIL lab, one of the first distributed computing networks in Canada.|
|1985||The Department of Computing Science became the School of Computing Science.|
|1986||The undergraduate curriculum is reorganized to include Computing Design and Organization, Computing Systems, Programming Languages and Software, Information Systems, Artificial Intelligence and Theoretical Computing Science.|
|1989||Rick Hobson develops SAM-I, a fast, high-level language interpreter using Canada’s first 16-bit micro-processing chip, which he designed at SFU in 1983.|
|1989||Slawomir Pilarski’s Circular Self Test for VLSI chips is recognized as a milestone in test technology.|
|1990||Tom Calvert creates Life Forms, the first shrink-wrapped software spin-off.|
|2002||The name “WICS – Women in Computing Science” is announced to the community.|
|2003||The School of Computing Science and the Department of Molecular Biology announce a new joint major—the first of its kind in Canada.|
|2003||The School of Computing Science hosts the first Employer Open House to encourage industry and co-op partnerships.|
|2003||Computing science professor Cenk Sahinalp is appointed as a Tier 2 CRC, the first of multiple such appointments in the history of the school covering areas such as Computational Genomics, Information Visualization and Computer Graphics.|
|2004||Computing Science opens its doors at the Surrey campus and offers a standalone program.|
|2005||SFU Computing Science becomes the first University in Canada to offer a Dual-Degree Cohort Program with Zhejiang University in China.|
|2006||The Technology and Science Complex 1 (TASC 1) opens at the Burnaby campus and expands the School's research space by more than 100 percent.|
|2006||Computing science professor Gabor Tardos is appointed as a Tier 1 CRC, the first of multiple such appointments in the history of the school covering areas such as Computational Complexity, Information Visualization and Big Data Science.|
|2007||The School moves into a new state-of-the-art facility on the east side of Galleria 4 at the Surrey campus.|
|2008||Greg Mori and Jian Pei are the first SFU computing science professors to be awarded with an NSERC DAS, with 13 more to follow, one of the highest amounts in Canada.|
|2008||New Software Systems Program is launched at the Surrey campus.|
|2012||The SFU-Zhejiang University Dual Degree Program in Computing Science wins Outstanding Program in International Education from the BC Council for International Education.|
|2012||Alumni start-up company, HiretheWorld, is named to the prominent BC Innovation List.|
|2013||Computing Science Graduate Student heads up the new Digital Health Hub to help facilitate SFU's partnership with Fraser Health and the City of Surrey.|
|2014||The SFU School of Computing Science is ranked among the top 50 computing science programs in the world in the Shanghai Ranking Academic Ranking of World Universities.|
|2014||Professional Master's Program launched.|
|2014||The School launches the Professional Masters in Big Data Program - the first program of its kind in Canada.
|2018||Alumni start up company, Buddybuild, is acquired by Apple.|
|2018||The school launches a new Professional Master’s Program in Computer Science specializing in visual computing – the first program of its kind in Canada.|
|2018||CS Research Day, a new annual event featuring graduate student, faculty and alumni research, is hosted for the first time.|
|2018||SFU computing science professor Angel Chang is named a CIFAR Artificial Intelligence Chair, followed by Mo Chen in 2020.|
|2019||Two computing science faculty members, Jian Pei and Martin Ester, elected to the Royal Society of Canada.|
|2020||SFU visual computing researchers win multiple awards at the Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), including the Best Student Paper Award and the PAMI Longuet-Higgins Prize.|
|2020||The School launches a new cybersecurity specialization in the Professional Master’s Program in Computer Science.|
|2020||Alumni start-up company, Mobify, is acquired by Salesforce.|
For a comprehensive list of awards won by researchers in the School of Computing Science at SFU, visit our awards page.