Day camp one highlight of Computer Science's 50th anniversary celebration

October 1, 2012  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A daylong series of events highlight the 50th anniversary celebration of Purdue University's Department of Computer Science.

A day camp for K-12 students, tours of the Lawson Computer Science Building, robotics demonstrations and a performance from the Purdue "All-American" Marching Band make up a portion of the events for the anniversary celebration.

Started in 1962, Purdue's computer science department was the first of its kind in the United States. Samuel Conte served as department head upon its creation and first had to hire faculty and define the graduate program.

In the program's first year five people comprised the teaching faculty, and they taught more than 20 courses, despite not all members serving in a full-time capacity.

The program has continually grown, culminating in 2008 with the opening of the Lawson Computer Science Building, a 107,000-square-foot structure located at the corner of Third and University streets. It cost $20 million and consolidated the computer science program from five to two buildings.

"Purdue Computer Science would not be among the top-ranked programs it is today without the achievements and support of our dedicated faculty and staff, our alumni and friends, and our outstanding students," said department head Sunil Prabhakar. "This event will celebrate how far we've come and look forward to the next 50 years."

The building provides meeting rooms and space for 45 faculty, 55 teaching assistants and 70 teaching assistants, and includes four classrooms, five instructional labs and four main research labs.
Tours of the facility will occur throughout the day on Oct. 5.

Computer science faculty also will present information about the department's history, including lectures by alumni Kevin Grazier, a scientific adviser for Hollywood films, at 2 p.m.; Dan Reed, a director of scalable computing and multicore at Microsoft Research, at 3 p.m.; and Mike Stoppelman, a vice president at Yelp, at 4 p.m. All presentations are open to the public.

Current computer science students will present a robotics demonstration at 1 p.m., while the marching band will perform at 3 p.m. outside the building.

Prabhakar, head of the Computer Science Department, and Jeffrey Roberts, dean of the College of Science, will give addresses at 5 p.m. in the Lawson Computer Science Building commons.

The 50th anniversary celebration is sponsored by the Department of Computer Science with support from the Harris Corp., Google, Nielsen, and Qualcomm.

More information on the event and a full agenda can be found at

Writer: Brian Peloza, 765-494-2084,

Sources: Sunil Prabhaker, 765-494-6003,

Kaethe Beck, Director of Development, College of Science,765-494-0669,

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