While the word “computer” once meant a hulking mainframe, computers today are smaller and ever-present in our daily lives, from smartphones to household appliances. Such change brings opportunities to develop systems that aid humans in new ways. A recent gift to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Computer Sciences will educate students to design these next-generation systems.
Technology CEO Judith R. Faulkner and the company she founded, Verona, Wis.-based Epic, have made a gift endowing three faculty associate positions within the computer sciences department.
The positions will emphasize the teaching of software development, application design and building exemplary user experiences.
Says Mark D. Hill, department chair and the John P. Morgridge and Gene M. Amdahl Professor of Computer Sciences, "These areas represent one of the directions the department wants to go; it’s more user-focused."
Faulkner, the CEO of a health care software company with a current workforce of about 9,500, says Epic's gift will build a talent pipeline to fill technology jobs.
"Computer scientists will be needed in almost every industry and there is a significant shortage. Through this gift, the UW-Madison computer science faculty will educate more computer scientists to help fill current and future needs," says Faulkner.
Faulkner, who earned her master's degree in computer sciences from UW-Madison and was awarded an honorary doctorate by UW in 2010, also serves on the CS department’s Board of Visitors, an advisory panel of distinguished alumni from around the country.
Epic and the computer sciences department share a close relationship. "Many of our graduates go to work there," says Hill. "Here in the Madison area, Epic is our Microsoft. It’s a huge tech giant right here in our backyard. We’re grateful to Judy Faulkner for her longstanding support of our department."
The gift comes at a time of sharply rising computer science enrollments, which have nearly doubled over the last five years. The Epic donation will help the department meet student demand and attract and retain outstanding teaching faculty.
Says Hill, "Computing, humans and the physical world are overlapping like never before; think of sensors and robots. Computers will be proactive in supporting and assisting humans. Going forward, we'll have systems embedded everywhere that people won’t even think about, provided they are well-designed."
[Photo courtesy of Epic]