CS 3604: Professionalism in Computing

Virginia Tech, Department of Computer Science

Course Description: This course studies the social impact, implications and effects of computers on society, and the responsibilities of computer professionals in directing the emerging technology. Relevant professional skills explored via active-learning activities include literate business writing, oral presentations, debates, job hunting and interviewing, professional etiquette, critical thinking, and peer reviewing. Specific topical areas include an overview of the history of computing, computer applications and their impact, the computing profession, the legal and ethical responsibilities of professionals, careers in computing (e.g., résumé writing, interviewing techniques), risks to the public, special needs and assistive technology, Internet censorship, industrial intelligence gathering, intellectual property issues (e.g., software copyrights), environmental concerns, medial and biotechnology ethics, hacking, professional liability, "malware" (e.g., viruses), whistle-blowing, privacy, data security, and universal accessibility. Outside-class participation activities include service learning assignments, career fairs, etc.


CS 3604 is required of all Computer Science majors, because it introduces important issues and concerns that will arise in careers involving computing and information technology. Any student planning a career in this field should be able to recognize, analyze, and respond appropriately to such issues. The course also provides considerable exposure to and practice with written and oral professional communication. It is designated as a Virginia Tech “writing-intensive” course, meaning that students must generate at least 15 pages of written material through formal assignments that also include opportunities for feedback and review.

For more information about a degree in Computer Science from Virginia Tech, see the Undergraduate Program. For more information about writing-intensive courses at Virginia Tech, see the University Writing Program. Other suggestions or questions about this course may be directed to Professor Mary Beth Rosson.