Renowned researcher Craig Partridge named chair of Computer Science Department

Charlotte Lang

Colorado State University’s College of Natural Sciences will be welcoming the new chair of the Computer Science Department this summer. Craig Partridge, the chief scientist for networking research in Raytheon BBN Technologies, hopes to bring his knowledge and experience to the University.

He will be filling the role previously held by Darrell Whitley, who served as the chair for 15 years, College of Natural Sciences Dean Janice Nerger said.

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“(Whitley) has been an exceptional leader over the years, but decided he wanted to return to the faculty at the end of his current term and focus more on his research and teaching,” Nerger said. “This provided us an opportunity to hire a new chair. We conducted a national search for his replacement and attracted an exceptional pool of qualified applicants from across the country.”

Nerger said the chair’s position is “expected to provide dynamic leadership conducive to departmental excellence in research, instruction and outreach.”

Partridge was chosen to fill the role as a result of his experience and reputation in the field.

“Dr. Partridge has an impressive track record of research and service to computer science in general and to the networking community in particular,” Nerger said.

This track record can be found in his history and interests with the subject, as shown in his descriptions of entering the field.

“I studied computer science for fun as an undergraduate,” Partridge wrote in an email to The Collegian. “The great advantage was that I could skip pre-requisites if I thought I could do more advanced work and by my senior year I was taking graduate courses and was also a teaching assistant in a computer science course.”

Partridge continued this fascination in the subject, joining a research company called Bolt Beranek and Newman— now known as BBN and existing as part of Raytheon Corporation— after his graduation.

Partridge said BBN had just turned on the internet for the US government and was looking for employees to teach programming. As the internet was still new, Partridge had the chance to use his research to fix real problems.

“I still like working that way today,” Patrdige wrote. “Look into the future, anticipate challenges and try to fix them.”

Look into the future, anticipate challenges and try to fix them.” Dr. Craig Partridge, new Chair of the Computer Science Department

Partridge’s experience also reaches to teaching. In the 1990s, he served as an adjunct professor at Stanford. There, he worked on revising and expanding the networking course offerings. Other places he has taught include the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Michigan.

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Patridge wrote that his experience with choosing to look ahead and solve problems will come with him to the University.

“There are plenty of problems the computer science department, with help from our dean, needs to solve and I am here to help that effort,” Partridge wrote.

Partridge also wrote about the necessity of computer science in the workplace, explaining the growing requirement for advanced computing skills across a wide range of jobs. His main focus was on STEM, the social sciences and the humanities.

Partridge wrote that, for many non-computer science students, this results in the 100-level computer science courses not being enough. Instead, he wrote, one or two 300-level courses are needed.

“In a perfect world, the 300-level course would be tailored to each major,” Patridge wrote. “Customizing our offerings would require revising and enhancing our curriculum and hiring more teaching staff.  That is expensive and we have to find a way to either get the resources or make it less expensive.”

Nerger expressed confidence in Partridge’s role in the University.

“Dr. Partridge will bring to CSU his extraordinary experience in the industry and his national reputation as one of the leading intellectual forces behind wireless networking and spectrum access, high-speed networking and Internet protocols,” Nerger said. “We are fortunate to have recruited him to CSU and I look forward to working with him when he arrives this summer.”

Collegian reporter Charlotte Lang can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @ChartrickWrites.