Duke Center for Computational Thinking

Our Vision

The liberal arts of the 21st century will combine disciplinary insight with computational and data science expertise.

The Center for Computational Thinking (CCT) recognizes that faculty, students, and staff from different disciplines have different needs and interests, and will provide customized training in computation, modeling, data science, and the ethics of emerging technologies. This training will add value to the traditional curriculum, preparing students for the modern workforce, where computational skills are a key to graduate success.

Woman testing PPE equipment made in CoLab

Photo caption: The COVID-19 Engineering Response Team, featuring partners from Pratt School of Engineering, Duke MEDx, Engineering Entrepreneurship, and the Innovation Co-Lab harness cutting-edge computing and fabrication technologies to rapidly meet the needs of healthcare providers.

Methods

Students are attracted to Duke by the opportunity to learn from and work with peers who are just as talented and passionate as they are. They are inspired by big challenges that span several disciplines, and are drawn to opportunities to work with peers who may have very different skills and life experiences. They care deeply about the ethical foundations of technology. The CCT provides training in a co-curricular seminar style, complementing traditional Duke classes, and inspiring curricular innovation.

  • For students in traditional computational majors (e.g., computer science, engineering, statistics), the CCT exposes students to the latest computational tools, demonstrating how foundations learned in the classroom translate to practical real-world applications.
  • For students in non-computational majors, the CCT aligns computational principles and methods with broader student interests (e.g., integrating image-analysis techniques into biology courses where students study cells under a microscope; highlighting the use of natural language processing for students interested in history, literature, or law).
  • For all students, the CCT integrates co-curricular and curricular offerings in ethics and policy of emerging technologies.
students from +DS program's computer generated art competition

Photo caption: Participants from the 1st +DS program AI for Art competition. Photo by Brent Lyons.

What is Computational Thinking at Duke?

A transformational way of approaching problems, designing systems, and understanding human expression using fundamental ideas from computational science.

Computational thinking at Duke builds on our proven success in engaging and empowering student journeys through interdisciplinarity, project-based experiences, and team-based learning.

Why Computational Thinking?

We are citizens of a 21st century world where algorithms govern where we invest, what we buy, whom we interact with, and what news we receive. Computational thinking creates a bridge between disciplines enabling them to work together to benefit society.

Computational modeling is central to many societal challenges ranging from climate change to infectious diseases to cancer. The lines between traditional computation, modeling, and data have disappeared producing a new emerging interdisciplinary synthesis changing both how we do science and how science and technology impact society.

Computational skills and integrated training in ethics and policy, combined with mentorship, hands-on experience, and working in teams, will prepare Duke students to succeed in the modern workforce.

Duke alumnus Eddy Cue discussed his career at Apple and advised students in the Duke Technology (DTech) Scholars program

Photo caption: Duke alumnus Eddy Cue discussed his career at Apple and advised students in the Duke Technology (DTech) Scholars program in this event from 2017. Photo by Duke Photography.

Poster session from the Data+ program

Photo caption: The Data+ program’s fourth annual student poster session.

Opportunities for Students

The programs within the Center for Computational Thinking  are delivered both from the Center and by its partners and connect students to a variety of accessible learning opportunities through multiple pathways including:

  • Curricular team-based learning via majors/minors and graduate programs, especially team-based experiences
  • Co-curricular learning to enhance coursework
  • Personalized learning through workshops, synchronous and asynchronous learning, project-based experiences, summer programs, and events

We prepare Duke graduates to apply computational thinking to ideas, challenges, and opportunities while simultaneously considering the ethical, legal, and social impacts of technology on humans for the betterment of society.