This FAQ is intended to provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions
by undergraduate students in computer science. If the answer you need
is not contained here, contact your advisor or
the staff assistant for the math and computer science programs,
The departmental Information of Local Interest page
is also a valuable source of information for computer science majors.
Your advisor is the faculty member assigned to help you make the transition into the computer science program, and particularly to help you with scheduling courses and making sure that you satisfy degree requirements. You should have received a letter with your advisor's name and contact information when you were accepted into the computer science program. You can also find out who your advisor is by logging in to the LionPATH system (http://launch.lionpath.psu.edu/) and requesting a degree audit. Your advisor's name should appear at the top of your audit. If this does not work, contact the staff assistant (948-6081).
The degree audit is a listing of the courses you have taken and how they apply to the requirements for the computer science degree. The degree audit also shows requirements you have yet to satisfy, including required courses you have not yet taken and so on. You can request a copy of your degree audit by logging in to the LionPATH system (http://launch.lionpath.psu.edu/). You can NOT graduate unless all of the requirements listed on the degree audit are satisfied.
Your degree audit may contain errors -- courses that do not appear at all, or are not listed as satisfying some requirement when they should. In this situation, you should consult with your advisor. Your advisor can arrange for changes to be made to your audit if appropriate.
Although you are not required to talk with your advisor before selecting courses, it is an excellent idea to do so, and will help to prevent unpleasant surprises at graduation time. Your degree audit is also a helpful guide for selecting courses.
You can see a schedule of classes at Enrollment Services (in the Swatara building) or the department office (W255 Olmsted). You can also view all courses offered in the PSU system at http://schedule.psu.edu/, by selecting the appropriate semester, campus location and department. For PSU Harrisburg, the courses are divided into regular offerings [campus location "Penn State Harrisburg, the Capital College (CL)"] and courses offered through continuing education [campus location "Penn State Harrisburg, CL030"]. Most courses are regular offerings. Courses offered through continuing education are mostly lower-level, general-education courses. We recommend using this web page to view the schedule since it is more current than a printed schedule, and also shows how many seats are left in each class. You can also use the departmental Information of Local interest page at http://cs.hbg.psu.edu/misc/ for direct links into the schedule of courses web pages for math and computer science courses.
You can register in person (at Enrollment Services in the Swatara Building), or you can use the LionPATH system (http://launch.lionpath.psu.edu/). For any registration method, you will need the schedule number for each class you wish to register for. You can obtain the schedule numbers from a printed schedule of classes or from the web (see How can I see what classes are offered?).
Contact the staff assistant at (717) 948-6081.
In general, yes, although you will need to be somewhat careful. In particular, at least 36 of the last 60 credits you take for your degree must be taken within the PSU system. Additionally, you MUST provide a transcript (with final grade) for such courses to Academic Records (in the Swatara building) so that these courses can be added to your PSU coursework. If you take take classes at another school the semester you intend to graduate, you must be able to get such transcripts to Academic Records before the end of the PSU semester. This is a potential problem because PSU semesters end earlier than those of many surrounding colleges and universities. Finally, if the courses you take at another school are to substitute for required courses or fill a particular graduation requirement, you must get approval for these courses from your advisor. If the course taken elsewhere is to substitute for a particular required course, you should fill out a Prior Approval form (available from the department office), have your advisor and the program chair sign it, and then return the form to Enrollment Services.
Early in the semester you intend to graduate, you must register your intent to do so using the "Graduating this Semester" application on LionPATH system. Confirm the activation period on the academic calendar for the dates when you can activate your intent to graduate.
An Access account is a computer account that is given to every student in the PSU system. An Access account provides Internet access, email, access to network resources in the PC computer labs and hosting for a personal web page.
An Access account is automatically created for you when you are accepted into the PSU system. You can pick up the userid and password for your Access account from any of the lab operators behind the desk in the front of the W305 Olmsted building computer lab. You will need a photo ID to pick up your account information. After you have the initial password, you can use it to log in to https://www.work.psu.edu, where you can change your password, set up email forwarding and do some other configuration of your Access account.
Penn State Harrisburg has full-service wireless available throughout the campus. Connections to the Wireless 2.0 service are secured, which means that it is not generally as easy as you might find at home or in a coffee shop. Please read the instructions. The Information Technology Services (ITS) offers Student Help Desk, a free service for any enrolled students. If you are having any issues with personal devices, such as laptops, phones, or tablets, the Student Help Desk can provide assistance.
The Microsoft DreamSpark program provides free software including operating system software, developer tools, and other software. Software that is available includes Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft Windows Clients and Servers, and other tools such as Visio and Project. Please note that Microsoft Office is not provided under this program. The DreamSpark licensing agreement allows us to create accounts only for those students who are enrolled in Mathematics or Computer Science courses at Penn State Harrisburg. Students who are enrolled in these courses will receive an email in the third or fourth week of the semester with instructions for accessing their DreamSpark accounts. The accounts remain active until the end of the semester. When downloading software from the DreamSpark program, students must agree to restrictions on the use of this software, including restrictions on using the software for almost all commercial purposes. For more information about the DreamSpark accounts, please contact Dr. Jeremy Blum. For help in installing or using software downloaded from the DreamSpark site, students should contact Microsoft support at http://support.microsoft.com.
We encourage you to use the Sun Lab machines (in W210A and W210 Olmsted) for all of your programming assignments (although you may also program under Windows for most assignments). The machines run on a distribution of Linux (Ubuntu) and are useful for general purpose computing such as Web development, email, word processing and productivity uses (using OpenOffice), and many other tasks.
You can pick up an account application form from the staff assistant for math and computer science in W255 Olmsted. This form also contains instructions for maintaining and accessing a personal Web page on the Sun Lab machines. After filling out the form, you can return it to the staff assistant. Your account will usually be created within a few days after returning the form.
To enter the Sun Lab (W210A and W210 Olmsted), you will need to be added to the access list, after which time you can use your PSU ID card to unlock the door. Please see the staff assistant for math and computer science, in W255 Olmsted. You must apply for a Sun Lab account before you are added to the access list. You will also need to sign a form indication your promise not to misuse the lab. Once you have been granted access, you can unlock the door to the Sun Lab by simply sliding your ID card in reader located by the doors.
One helpful resource is the local usage guide. The book "UNIX in a Nutshell", Arnold Robbins, O'Reilly, 1999, ISBN 1-56592-427-4, is a useful reference for anyone who is new to Unix. Finally, any more experienced Unix user who happens to be working in the lab will usually be willing to answer short questions.
All of the usual Penn State rules apply, as well as some additional rules from the Computer Science Program. The local ethics page has links to the general Penn State computer usage policies. The short answer is that viewing or altering another user's data without permission is never allowed, and that any commercial use of any Penn State computing resource is prohibited.
You can access the Sun Lab machines remotely using ssh (Secure Shell) and sftp (secure ftp). This article provides the information on connecting to Penn State using a VPN. The department does not condone using telent or ftp. When you use telnet or ftp, your password is sent across the network unencrypted, and so could be intercepted by some malicious user. The usage guide contains a list of the hostnames of all of the Sun Lab machines. Secure shell is available for free (for non-commercial use) from ITS.
Yes. Basic instructions for this are contained on the account application form. You can use CGI programs with your Web page if the computer science faculty check and approve your programs - contact Dr. Bui (948-6088). You can also maintain a personal Web page on a University-wide server - see http://www.personal.psu.edu for more details.
Computer Science is the most technical of the three, and emphasizes problem solving and mathematics. Information Systems emphasizes business applications of technology. Information Sciences and Technology emphasizes using and administering hardware and software systems.
The Learning Center in Olmsted W-117 provides help to students with writing and other course-related issues.
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