Celebrating 50 Years of Computing Science with Prof. Paul M. Jackowitz ’77, P’11, ‘16

A student turned professor reflects on the history of computer science at Scranton.
Celebrating 50 Years of Computing Science with Prof. Paul M. Jackowitz ’77, P’11, ‘16

This is an excerpt from The Scranton Journal. Read it in its entirety, here.

While many of the students of Prof. Paul M. Jackowitz ‘77, P ’11, ’16, assistant professor of Computing Sciences at The University of Scranton, have heard him discuss the unintended consequences of new technologies in the years since he first joined the Scranton faculty in 1982, most of them likely don’t know that Jackowitz would never have embarked upon a career in computer science without the intended consequence of a scheduled meeting with his high school guidance counselor concerning his future after graduation.

“I sat down, and (she) said, ‘What do you want to do when you graduate?’” Jackowitz recalled. “Now, I’m 17 years old, and I haven’t the faintest idea. And, the guidance counselor said, ‘Well, you get good grades in math – do you like math?’ And I mumbled, ‘Yeah, I like math.’ And (she) said, ‘You don’t seem enthusiastic.’ And I said, ‘Well, it’s kind of all the same stuff.’ And she said, ‘Well, what about … computer science?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know what that is.’”

The South Scranton native began formally learning about computer science during the fall of 1973, three years after the University first listed “Computer Science” as an option in its course catalog. At the time, the University, which was the second American Jesuit university to offer a computer science major, had one lone, room-sized Xerox Sigma 6 computer located on the first floor of St. Thomas Hall for its students to use.

“It was behind a brick wall,” Jackowitz said. “You never saw it. There were a couple of holes in the wall. In the one hole, you put your punch card decks with your programs, and, in the other holes, you got a printout back, and that’s how we interacted with computers on campus in the early 1970s.”

Continue reading about Jackowitz and listen to a podcast featuring the professor in The Scranton Journal, here.

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