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New programming and design course available this fall

by Jennifer Johnson,

Write the code for your own interactive online adventure game and create complex designs from fractals in a new programming course this fall.

Offered at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, “Mathematics 101E: Computer Science” provides the best fundamental techniques for programming and design taught by one of the world’s leading experts in computer science education. 

Eric Roberts
Mark and Melody Teppola Presidential Distinguished Visiting Professor Eric Roberts

Longtime Stanford University professor Eric Roberts, who has been teaching at Willamette for the past year as the Mark and Melody Teppola Presidential Distinguished Visiting Professor, derived the course from projects he developed at Stanford and other universities. Roberts is also a member of Willamette’s Computing and Data Science faculty group, which is part of a larger effort by the university to expand computing and data science offerings across campus and disciplines. 

The new class is as serious about math and technology as it is about creativity. Students will learn how to reveal details in photographs undetectable by the human eye, instruct a virtual robot to paint from a palette of over 16 million colors and concoct new universes in an adventure game Roberts developed based on the one that started the genre. Some pop culture will be incorporated into the course — Rey and the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars make an appearance — as will the history behind some of the earliest forms of digital art, such as the Jacquard loom. 

No prior coding knowledge is necessary and students can lean on experienced undergraduate programmers for help. 

By the end of the semester, students will have experience in digital image manipulation, time-step animation and interactive techniques for web content — all of which have direct application to jobs in graphic design, web development and computer-generated imagery in films, Roberts said. 

Above all, they will know how to approach problems like an expert. The class covers fundamentals such as implementation, testing and especially debugging, which Roberts sees as  similar to the work of a detective who uses evidence and logic to solve a mystery.  

“Learning the basics of programming enables students to use it in new and more creative ways,” Roberts said, “and they should be able to do anything they want starting with this course.” 

About Willamette University

Based in Salem, Oregon, Willamette is the premier private university in the Pacific Northwest. Willamette’s beautiful, historic campus — located across the street from the Oregon State Capitol and co-located with Tokyo International University of America — features a residential undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences and two professional graduate schools: the College of Law and the Atkinson Graduate School of Management.

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