Computer Science

ECS 15 Introduction to Computers


Lecture: 3 hours
Laboratory: 3 hours

Prerequisite: None

Credit restrictions/cross listings  Not open for credit to students who have completed course 30. Only two units of credit allowed to students who have completed Plant Science 21.

Catalog Description:
Computer uses in modern society. Emphasis on uses in non-scientific disciplines. Includes word processing, spreadsheets, web-page creation, elementary programming, basic computer organization, the Internet, the uses of computers and their influence on society. Course not intended for CS or CSE majors.

Summary of course contents

  1. Introduction and Course Overview
  2. Computers
    1. Hardware
    2. Software
    3. Computer Operating Systems
    4. Principles of computer operation
    5. Auxiliary storage systems
    6. Applications
    7. History of computers
  3. Internet
    1. Applications
    2. TCP/IP
    3. Network security
  4. Programming Computers
    1. Computer programs
    2. Program design
    3. Interactive programming
    4. Developing and testing programs
  5. Computer Effects on Society
  6. Ethical Issues Affecting Computer Uses

Students have written assignments involving (1) Interacting with Personal Computers; E-mail, Network Utilities; (2) Word processing (1 exercise); (3) Spreadsheet operations (2 exercises); (4) Designing a web page (1 exercise); and (5) Programming (4 exercises). Students write a term paper on the use of computers in a field of interest to them. This paper will go through several iterations, including submission of a prospectus that defines the topic as well as the thesis, a progress report, a complete draft of the final paper, and the final revised paper.

Illustrative reading

  • M. Dawson. Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner, 2nd edition. Thomson Course Technology PTR, 2006.
  • Selected review papers and technical papers and class notes will be used. A primer on Python is provided.

Science & Engineering
Scientific Literacy

ABET Category Content:
Engineering Science: 0 unit
Engineering Design: 0 unit

Goals: To prepare non-science majors to take advantage of computers in their respective majors by understanding their uses, limitations, and potential.

Program Outcomes: This course is for non-majors.

Overlap: ECS 15 overlaps with PLS 21 in the introduction to microcomputers and basic office tools. ECS 15 covers a significant amount of material on the computer networks and basic programming skills, which are not included in PLS 21.

Instructors: Staff

History: 2012.10.18 (P. Koehl): Tweaked catalog description. Expanded the summary of course contents, replaced description of the different stages of the term paper with more accurate version.  COCI approval (2010.12.1). Prepared by N. Amenta (2007.02).