Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.

Computer Science @ Cal Poly

123321123321 Registered User Posts: 267 Junior Member
edited August 2007 in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Just wondering, how is the computer science dep. at cal poly? I am looking into schools with good comp. science programs and it's a little tough. I know cal poly is a great school for engineering, but is it for comp. science?

Thanks in advace
Post edited by 123321 on

Replies to: Computer Science @ Cal Poly

  • xcyber347xcyber347 Registered User Posts: 84 Junior Member
    "According to U.S. News & World Report's 2007 America's Best Colleges report, Cal Poly is ranked the top public university in the Western United States for schools whose highest degree is a master's. The College of Engineering was also ranked the second best public undergraduate school. Specific engineering programs were ranked 1st, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in electrical, industrial & manufacturing, computer, and aerospace engineering, respectively, for public schools whose highest degree is a bachelor's or master's in the U.S."

    Computer engineering is almost the same as computer science.
  • linguaelinguae Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    US News does not rank undergraduate computer science programs, so there is no direct ranking of Cal Poly's computer science department. I am a computer science student at Cal Poly (start my third year in the fall), and I will say that Cal Poly's computer science department is very high-quality. The class size in computer science courses never exceeds 35, the professors are primarily teaching professors who focus more attention on their students than their research, professors' office hours are abundant and accessible, and the students are able to build top-quality projects after graduation. The undergraduate education is about on par with the mid-range UCs, although I know a student who transfered from UC Berkeley to Cal Poly saying that the computer science courses are taught similarly and are equal in rigor. Most graduates end up with great-paying jobs from big-name companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amgen, Intuit, and many more. Oh, and there are plenty of technical talks from industry given at Cal Poly, and many opportunities to talk to corporate representatives.

    Cal Poly computer science is perfect if you want an industrial job in software development, since Cal Poly gives you all of the tools that you need, as well as all of the connections. If you do well in school (3.0 and above), things will fall into place. Now, if you want to be a computer science researcher (get a PhD and do research in industry or academia), then that's a bit different. (I personally fit in this latter case). Cal Poly, being an undergraduate- and masters-level school, does not do much research (there is some, but not a lot of undergraduate research opportunites). You'll most likely have to find an outside internship during the summer (such as an NSF REU or industrial research internship), or start your own project with a professor (all Cal Poly students are required to do a senior project; you can turn it into a research project). If your heart is dead set on research, I would suggest going to a high-end UC such as UC Berkeley, UCLA, or UCSD, or attend a top-notch private university such as Carnegie Mellon or Stanford, where their undergraduate computer science programs are superb and their research opportunities are plentiful. But even if you're interested in research, you may want to consider Cal Poly for its unique advantage in class size and the ease of approaching professors. Cal Poly may not have the resources of a UC or private school, but it does have quite a wonderful support system of professors and advisors.

    Before making up your mind, I do advise you to visit San Luis Obispo before you apply to Cal Poly. San Luis Obispo is halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on Highway 101. It is a small town of 44,000, and is somewhat touristy (but not overran by them, either). It has a sort of slow feel to it, and there is no traffic (other than heavy foot traffic in Downtown). They have a wonderful Farmers' Market every Thursday evening; I go there weekly to get fresh produce and even avoid scheduling courses around it ;). If you love the outdoors and like getting out in the day, you'll love SLO and SLO County. I love cycling to Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, and surrounding cities on my road bike; it's a beautiful ride (not to mention fun and sometimes exhilarating when coming down the rolling hills).

    However, if you're used to the city and the lights, you might not be too interested in SLO. SLO is 200 miles from the nearest big city (either San Jose or LA), so driving to a city isn't an option for a day (you'll have to make a weekend out of it, and taking weekends off is a bad idea at Cal Poly, with its intense quarter system). Plus, I must admit; there isn't too much to do in SLO at night off campus that doesn't involve partying, drinking, and bars; nights for the underaged and people who refuse to drink/party can be lonely, and there is only so many times you can go to the movies or walk around Downtown SLO. (I don't drink and I don't like partying) I've had to deal with this on certain occasions, and it can feel lonely. But hey, we're future computer scientists; we have LAN parties, late night coding sessions, and stay up reading the latest specs on graphics cards and processors ;). We don't need no stinkin' parties. Plus, there are plenty of on-campus student clubs and organizations that you can join. As long as you revolve your activities around the day and not at night, and if you find time to get out and explore the area, you shouldn't be too bored in SLO.

    I guess I gave you a little more information than you needed, but that is my personal, straight opinion on Cal Poly based on my two years there. I'm a city/suburban person who wants to do research, so I'm not in love with the place. However, I feel that I get a quality education here, and that I could get a nice quality of life here through student clubs and recreation (such as cycling). See for yourself to see how you like it.
  • xcyber347xcyber347 Registered User Posts: 84 Junior Member
    That's a load of good information. Although, if you really want to pursue research, couldn't you continue your studies at another university after graduating from Cal Poly? Also, being in quiet college town rather than a large city can give you a better study environment and make college feel more personal.
  • linguaelinguae Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    Well, future researchers have no choice but to go on to another university after graduation, since most research positions require PhDs, and since Cal Poly doesn't offer PhDs. Although most Cal Poly computer science graduates overwhelmingly choose industry upon graduation (and this is where most of the resources of the school goes toward), a few go on to masters and PhD programs. I know one guy who graduated in the spring who is going to Cornell for a PhD (a highly ranked PhD program). If you do well at Cal Poly and take advantage of opportunities inside and outside of the school, graduate school is within reach.

    About the small town/big city thing, I personally like the slow aspects of SLO (no pun intended), but whether or not it is a better study environment ultimately depends on the person. SLO is a great environment as long as you are independent. The sooner you figure out how the town works and what it does offer, the better you can appreciate living there. Once again, there are a lot of recreational activities in SLO, such as cycling, hiking, surfing, kayaking, etc. Having a healthy (and not just exercise), responsible personal and social life is important to the college experience and can enhance your study environment, since you'll be happier. Having an irresponsible personal/social life will hurt your study environment. But, this is universal to all colleges. It depends on how you play with the cards dealt to you when attending college in any environment.
  • askmeaboutmyassaskmeaboutmyass Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    make sure you are a good programmer already or you are gonna be ass raped by the workload
  • linguaelinguae Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    ^ That's true. I was able to avoid CSC/CPE 101 since I took a equivalent, transferable course during my senior year of high school at a community college. In fact, because I had so much programming experience, I didn't face any major difficulties until getting into my upper-division courses. But I've heard that CSC 101 can be very difficult for those who've never programmed before. It would be wise to have some programming knowledge before starting computer science at Cal Poly.

    If you're already a skilled programmer, you can take the challenge and take CSC 108, an accelerated introduction to computer science (yes, it will be offered this fall. It wasn't available when I entered in Fall 2005). It combines CSC 101 and 102 (object-oriented programming) into two courses. However, this course is taught by a certain professor known for pushing his students to the limit (Cal Poly CSC students will know who he is; I won't give names). It's wonderful taking a course with this particular professor (you definitely learn a lot), but be prepared for the challenging courseload.
  • xcyber347xcyber347 Registered User Posts: 84 Junior Member
    I don't understand why a person who has never programmed before would want to major in comp sci. I figured people who major in comp sci are those who have programmed and enjoy it. I myself will be taking csc 108 in the fall quarter.
  • askmeaboutmyassaskmeaboutmyass Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    I figured you were talking about O'Gorman. Im not a CPE but all the people I know have said he's pretty much the devil. I checked PASS and I've never heard of the guy (go figure), but I'm sure you know more cause you're actually in the major. Another word of advice: don't even think about cheating. There were several people in my dorm last year that received an F for "helping" each other out. I'm pretty sure they have programs that check, so don't even think about it! This goes for helping people as well. NEVER give out any of your code.
  • xcyber347xcyber347 Registered User Posts: 84 Junior Member
    What if someone asks for advice? I was hoping there wouldn't be a competitive atmosphere.
  • linguaelinguae Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    I was actually referring to Staley when mentioning the very challenging professor, but O'Gorman is considered tough as well (I never took O'Gorman, though; this is what I hear from other students).

    As far as the non-collaboration rules are at the Cal Poly computer science department, basically you can ask other students very general questions (What is this concept? What does this algorithm do?), but you can't look at their solutions or work together to finish the program. Check with each professor and his or her syllabus to find out their specific non-collaboration rules.
This discussion has been closed.