Yi Deng, PhD serves as dean and Isaac L. Auerbach Professor at the College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) at Drexel University. Deng came to Drexel in September 2016 after a seven-year tenure as dean of the College of Computing and Informatics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where his leadership helped to transform the college leading to dramatic growth in academic programming, enrollment, and research funding. His leadership also helped to shape the university’s direction and priorities, and to establish the college as a powerhouse in the region’s economic development efforts. He spearheaded and led development of overarching partnerships with industries, the Chamber of Commerce and other economic development organizations in the region. Prior to his post at UNC Charlotte, Deng served as professor and dean at the School of Computing and Information Sciences at Florida International University (FIU).

Drexel is one of a few U.S. institutions with a college that encompasses both the depth and breadth of computing and informatics – and the important interplay between those fields – under one roof. With a crosscutting, interdisciplinary academic format, CCI is uniquely poised to meet the changing needs of society and underpin the transformational roles of information and technology in today’s economy.

With more than 1800 students (and a goal to grow to 2,300 over the next four years) and 60 world class faculty members, CCI is setting the pace for innovation in computing and information science education and research for the 21st century economy. Meeting at the intersection of computing and information science, our interdisciplinary online and on-campus undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs are preparing the next generation of innovators and solution-makers.

What are some of the key lessons you are trying to teach students in the College of Computing and Informatics today?

One of the core lessons that we strive to instill in every CCI student is the ever-evolving, critical role of the information and technology (IT) in today’s world. IT has always been an instrumental tool for industry; however, recently the field has experienced a transformational change. Today, IT is not just a tool or utility for industry, but is also driving the core operations and innovation in every field, from banking and financial services to healthcare to retail, and beyond.

CCI offers an outstanding portfolio of leading edge academic programs in computer science, software engineering, information systems, library and information science, data science, cybersecurity, and health informatics. Our unique structure – of combining computing and information science disciplines under one roof – gives us both the breadth and depth to ensure high-quality, industry-responsive programming as well as the interplay between programs that sparks innovation and discovery.

Our students receive first-class technical training, but just as important – and largely because of Drexel’s best-in-class co-op education model – they receive hands-on experience and professional development that allows them to contribute on day one. Our students are sought after by employers because, in addition to having outstanding technical skills, they are recognized as creative problem solvers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders.

What are some examples of how computing and informatics are changing businesses?

Banking and financial services are good examples of industries which have been transformed by information and technology. Data and information technology are revamping the business model in every dimension. We’re seeing huge shifts in marketing, customer service, compliance, investment, supply chain – all driven by information and technology.

The rapidly expanding relationships between computational sciences, biology, and medicine have also given birth to whole new professions. The integration of genomics with huge volumes of data is driving not only improvements and new discoveries in health care and medicine, but is also significantly disrupting traditional models with increasingly personalized medicine and treatment delivery platforms.

Retail is another great example. Aside from operating e-commerce at a previously unimagined scale, Amazon’s ability to understand and influence consumers by collecting and leveraging data and then source and deliver a seemingly endless array of products has completely altered the retail landscape.

These are just a few of what are many, many examples of computing and informatics not only leading to improvements and efficiencies, but completely disrupting, redefining, and even creating brand new industries.

What are some of the best ways for employers to interact with your students?

Drexel is the only university in the region with a comprehensive College of Computing & Informatics. With the scope of our programs and accomplished graduates, CCI is uniquely positioned as a key talent provider in IT disciplines for the region. Building strong, sustainable, scalable industry partnerships to position Drexel as a driver for economic growth in the region is a top priority for our College. Central to this goal is our new CCI Corporate Partners Program.

Since welcoming our first Partner in September 2017, the Corporate Partners Program has continued to receive an overwhelmingly positive response from industry. Today, we have more than 16 companies who have joined or agreed to join the program.

The program brings industry into our College and our classrooms and creates a range of programming to enable our industry partners to work closely with us in talent development, recruitment, retention and training. It is a powerful platform to help our partners to increase their abilities and competitiveness to recruit and retain first class information and technology talents. CCI is also leading efforts to address broader talent supply initiatives, such as our Women in Computing Initiative which aims to close the tech gender gap.

Our partners benefit from a quality, sustainable talent pipeline, while our students benefit from an industry-responsive curriculum and exposure to exceptional co-op and entry-level positions across a range of industries. Strong industry engagement is truly a “win-win-win” for everyone involved.

You are preparing to launch a new set of graduate data science programs in the form of an MS degree and two graduate certificates in data science. How would you describe the market need for graduates to receive this type of training and what do you think will distinguish these students?

We are excited to launch a new portfolio of graduate data science programs this fall, in conjunction with our existing undergraduate data science program. Today, data science is one of the fastest growing fields in the country. With the ever-growing mountain of information driving today’s economy, data science professionals are needed to help businesses make sense of the data generated in every industry.

Our graduate data science program is comprehensive, with electives options to tailored to those with or without a technical background. The master’s program emphasizes data science concepts in three concentrated areas: 1) Analytics, Mining and Algorithms; 2) Visualization and Communication; and 3) Management and Accountability.

Through data collection, management, curation, visualization, and sharing, our data science students will learn how to help drive business solutions. The program is especially beneficial to business professionals who will gain robust knowledge and skill in data analytics to facilitate problem solving and innovation in a variety of industries.

As with all our academic programs, our data science students will benefit from a dynamic, innovative and collaborative college. From interdisciplinary projects to real-world experiences and extensive professional development, our students are well-positioned to make lasting impacts in today’s world.

Submitted by:
Christopher Spangler
Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships and Communications
Drexel University College of Computing and Informatics