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Sirti Bestows Award of Honor
October 21, 2010. Billie Moreland, PhD, of Billie Moreland and Associates and Steve Simmons, PhD, E...

Triangle %u201CGraduates%u201D at Sweet Sixteen
The Idea (1994)
In June 1994, while on a layover in the San Francisco airport, Dr. Steve Simmons cam...

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12/01/2009 - EWU Computer Science Celebrates 25 Years

Alumni and friends are invited to a celebratory 25th anniversary reception from 12:30 -3:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 3, in the atrium of the Computing and Engineering Building on the Eastern Washington University (EWU) Cheney campus. Three Terabyte Triangle entrepreneurs will be guests of honor as EWU celebrates the Silver Anniversary of its Computer Science Department. The Triangle representatives will be Jack-Daniyel Strong, of Strong Solutions, Daro Walker of ILF Media, and Kirt Runolfson of Interlink Advantage. Each is an alumnus of EWU computer science, and each has launched a business and developed a historic premises in the Triangle, adding technology as needed.

EWU's computer science roots go back to 1969, when Computer Science Studies were first brought to the university using an IBM 1620 computer. The early IBM computer was about the size of a large refrigerator and was operated using key-punch cards. Then in 1984, the Computer Science Program was formed and authorized to award both a Bachelor of Science (BS) and a Master of Science (MS) in Computer Science. From the very beginning, EWU CS offered courses in downtown Spokane as well as at Cheney, initially in the upper floors of the Bon Marche Building.

Today, the main EWU Cheney program is housed in the state-of-the-art Computing and Engineering Building, which opened in the fall of 2005. Courses at EWU Spokane are now located in the Phase I building on the Riverpoint campus 'the same building which houses the new Riverpoint Datacenter.

"Our celebration marks the 25th year of continuing excitement 'keeping up with one of the world's fastest moving areas of knowledge," said Steve Simmons, the only computer science professor to be at EWU since computer science studies originated in '69. "In our history, there have been times where Eastern computer science students and faculty have outraced, by several steps, the blistering pace of rapid progress in the field."

As one example, Simmons noted a five year project supported by a NASA grant where Eastern students worked on an advanced flight computer that would help the space shuttle program with weather safety along the flight path.

Some EWU CS history milestones which involve the Terabyte Triangle area are:

1984 'Department is Officially Launched
On July 1, 1984, the state legislature authorized EWU to award the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Master of Science in Computer Science degrees.
From the start, a wide selection of Masters level courses was offered in the Spokane downtown area, to support those working in the IT industry.

1991-1994 'SIRTI
In 1991, EWU CS began planning and project development, in its involvement with the Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institute (SIRTI) 'now Sirti 'preparing for the opening of the Sirti building in October, 1994. Among these were a medical computer graphics project developed by Dr. R William Clark, and Web systems development projects planned by Dr. Beth Britt.

1999 'Metropolitan Area Connections
At an October regional meeting in downtown Spokane, organized and sponsored by Cisco Systems, Dr. Steve Simmons proposed a plan for interconnecting the region's universities via optical fiber. The plan was later approved by the EWU Board of Trustees as the "High Definition Education" component of the EWU Strategic Plan for Information Technology (2001). Eventually the plan was implemented by connecting the EWU Cheney campus to downtown Spokane via optical fiber. EWU had previously been linked only by T-1 connections.

2003 -- Cyber Security
Driven by a pressing national need for security in computer networks, EWU CS created an initiative to launch research, courses, and projects in cyber security. State and federal grants had been obtained to hire a faculty specialist in cyber security, and set up labs and dedicated research computer networks. These were initially established in the Sirti building at Riverpoint. Dr. Carol Taylor is now spearheading cyber security initiatives, and currently partnering with several Spokane metropolitan area collaborators 'from banks to security development firms 'to bring additional security systems and knowledge to regional organizations.

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