Belhaven Launches Computer Science Program

Describe Image HereJune 2, 2015 (Jackson, Miss.) - Dr. David O’Gwynn ‘99 is returning to his alma mater to take the role of chair and assistant professor of Belhaven University’s new computer science program, beginning next semester. He has exciting plans for the program that will give students the insight and advantage they need to succeed in their field of study.

“Computer science has changed dramatically from the academic programs of the past,” said Dr. Roger Parrott, President of Belhaven University. “I’m thrilled that our new major will be on the front edge of what students need to get the best jobs in the computer science industry.”

From the beginning, students will be exposed to and create web and network-enabled software. The core curriculum of the new program will be centered around network services and will incorporate concentrations in cyber security and indie gaming. Students who pursue an emphasis in cyber security will study network defense, cyber intelligence, malware reverse engineering, incident response as well as network intrusion and defense. “One needs only scan the headlines to understand that our networked world is a very hostile place,” said Dr. O’Gwynn. “Businesses and governments alike are under constant attack in the cyber domain from criminals, extremists and others. We want to prepare our students for that world, give them the tools to protect and defend the systems they will build and maintain.”

“I’m also very excited about including a cross-discipline emphasis for indie gaming.” Dr. O’Gwynn realized the profitability of the computer gaming industry and how its power and growth potential extends into the usual entertainment domain as well as non-entertainment domains such as education, training and therapeutics. “While most of the gaming industry is concentrated in a few very large game companies, the independent, or "indie", game design community is growing and thriving. Belhaven, with its ethos of cross-disciplinary curricula, is uniquely suited for preparing students to enter into the highly entrepreneurial world of indie game design.” Students who pursue a concentration in indie gaming will not only study the mechanics behind gameplay and visual design components, but will also learn about the business and marketing side of gaming.

“When Belhaven considered reestablishing a computer science program, it was an easy decision to pursue Dr. O’Gwynn,” said Dr. Dennis Watts, Associate Provost. “David brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in computer science. His addition to our science and mathematics faculty will continue to advance the institutions’ STEM capabilities and, therein, our students’ opportunities for employment in STEM disciplines.”

Dr. O’Gwynn worked at Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT Lincoln Laboratory where he was a technical staff member of the Cyber Systems and Operations Group.  Dr. O’Gwynn worked on projects dealing with cyber situational awareness and the support of national cyber defense. He received his PhD in computer science from University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2011, his M.S. in computational engineering from Mississippi State University in 2003 and his B.S. in mathematics from Belhaven University in 1999.  His PhD thesis was on a topological approach to shape analysis and alignment.

From 2005-2011, he worked for the University of Alabama at Birmingham as a teaching and research assistant. In 2003, he worked for Watkins-O’Gwynn Consulting Electrical Engineers as a system administrator. He also worked for Mississippi State University as a research assistant in 2000-2003. His academic articles and research have been included in IEEE High Performance Extreme Computing Conference (HPEC 2012,2013 and 2014), 42nd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, ACM Southeast and Lincoln Laboratory Journal.

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