Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences

Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences
Donald Bren Hall, one of the buildings on the campus of the Bren School[1]
ICS buildings (center and left) viewed from the top of Bren Hall

The Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, also known as the School of ICS or equally informally as the Bren School, is an academic unit of University of California, Irvine (UCI), and the only dedicated school of computer science in the University of California system. Consisting of over a thousand students and members, the school maintains three buildings in the South-East artery of UCI's undergraduate campus, and maintains student body and research affiliations throughout UCI.[2][3]

ICS consists of three departments: Computer Science, Informatics, and Statistics. The combined groupings focus the school around the fields of computing and processing of information. The departments confer seven undergraduate, eleven masters, and seven doctoral degrees in total, with some degree programs cooperating with affiliated schools.[4]



Beginning in 1968, three years after UCI's founding, the Department of Information and Computer Science was created as an independent department, not belonging to any school. In 2002, the 35 year old department was elevated to the status of a school, and its faculty were partitioned into two departments, the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Informatics. The Department of Statistics, founded earlier in 2002, was included as a third department in the newly created school.[2]

During 2004, the school received a $20 million anonymous donation. The donation was later revealed to be from local realtor, Donald Bren. The school was renamed in his honor. The donation is primarily being used to seek out and seed prestigious researchers.[5]

Programs and Degrees

The school's independent status allows for unique majors and fields that are not bound by the rigorous requirements traditionally set forth by other schools, such as Engineering. The school of ICS is one of less than fifty independent computer science schools in the United States, and the only one in the University of California system.[2]

There were 908 undergraduate and 272 graduate students as of 2006, a drop from previous years. The Dean of ICS, Debra J. Richardson, speculates the drop is from fears of outsourcing and the dot-com bubble burst, both reputed factors in stagnating technology jobs. However, the percentage of female enrollment is 16.8%, an increase from previous years.[3] In Fall 2009, there were 802 undergraduate and 347 graduate students. [6]


The school possesses 6 undergraduate majors, ranging from lower level hardware to high level social computing, each providing a bachelor of science degree (notably, Computer Engineering is not part of ICS, and resides in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering). Out of the 6 undergraduate majors in the Donald Bren School, 3 are unique interdisciplinary studies shared between the Paul Merage School of Business, the Henry Samueli School of Engineering, and the School of Biological Sciences.

Twice as many undergraduates self-identified as Asian compared to Caucasian in the 2009 - 2010 academic year. [7]

Non-Interdisciplinary Majors

The school's primary major is Information and Computer Science, focused on computer science theory and software engineering. In contrast to engineering majors, additional natural sciences (such as physics) are not required to complete the major. Two upper division theoretical mathematics courses are required, along with basic calculus, linear algebra, statistics, and discrete mathematics. The program allows students more freedom to pursue a selected field in computer science. Though not required for a degree, the school certifies specializations within the major:[4]

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Systems
  • Implementation and Analysis of Algorithms
  • Information Systems
  • Networks and Distributed Systems
  • Software Systems

The second most popular major within the school is Computer Science, similar in composition to ICS. Though more limiting in electives, the major was formed around the recommended courses set by ACM and IEEE, and features a more classical computer science curriculum.[4]

The major of Informatics, unique in the UC system, focuses on software engineering, social computing, and management. The higher level of social abstraction prepares students in such fields as software analysis, management, design, and interfaces.[4]

Interdisciplinary Majors

Computer Science and Engineering

Computer Science and Engineering requires more engineering preparation and courses than Information and Computer Science, including physics, electrical engineering, and multivariate calculus. Due to the nature of the program, it is hosted jointly by The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and The Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science.[8]

Business Information Management

The undergraduate major of Business Information Management (BIM) is administered by the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences is a collaborative, interdisciplinary degree program between the Bren School and The Paul Merage School of Business. It seeks to educate students to understand and then apply the theories and concepts of a broad, integrated curriculum covering computing, informatics, business fundamentals and analytical decision-making. Graduates of the program will:

  1. Learn the fundamentals of information and computer science, including the rudiments of software design and construction with an emphasis on data management
  2. Grasp the business fundamentals, covering all the functional areas in the business school, provide a background and context in which information and its analysis will be applied.

The curriculum is presented across three general academic areas:

  • Computing (computer science, informatics and software)
  • Business Foundations (accounting, finance, marketing, strategy and operations)
  • Analytical Methods (mathematics, statistics, economics, management science and decision analysis)
Biomedical Computing

The undergraduate major of Biomedical Computing (BMC) is the intersection of computer science and information technology with biology and medicine. Students will receive a firm quantitative grounding in mathematics, statistics, and computation; become familiar with the basic foundations of physics, chemistry, and biology; master a rigorous and demanding Biomedical Computing year-long sequence; study theory, algorithms, data mining, and machine learning; and carry out a year-long immersive capstone Senior Project. The immense growth and impact of biomedical information has led to a critical need for people who can understand the languages, tools, and techniques of both life sciences and computational sciences. The Biomedical Computing program aims to create a new generation of professionals with these complementary cross-disciplinary skills. Graduate of a major in Biomedical Computing will:

  1. provide students with a solid foundation in computer science, quantitative methods, and biomedical computing;
  2. introduce students to biomedical computing problems and the corresponding computer science perspective;
  3. teach students the fundamental principles, methods, and technologies for addressing these problems; and
  4. provide students with extensive practice in biomedical computing.

In the lower-division program, students acquire a firm quantitative grounding in mathematics, statistics, and computation; become familiar with the basic foundations of physics and chemistry; and learn the fundamentals of molecular biology from a computational perspective. In the upper-division program, students take a year-long Biomedical Computing sequence; study theory, algorithms, data mining, and machine learning; and take several quantitative and biological electives. The year-long immersive capstone Senior Project unifies theory and practice as applied to an intensive and meaningful real-world biomedical computing problem. By the end of the four-year degree program students will have mastered the theory, context, application, and practice of Biomedical Computing.


ICS provides 11 master's level and 7 doctorate level graduate programs. Since computing is a part of many other fields (which use or interact with computing technology), ICS collaborates with other schools in many of its programs.[9]

The Department of Computer Science offers a general major to those who have no specialized field, and is awarded as Information and Computer Science (M.S.). Computer Science (M.S.,Ph.D.) allows for a wide range of fields, similar to the general degree; however, doctoral degrees require a particular research interest within the field, unlike the general degree. Embedded Systems (M.S.) more narrowly focuses students on the implementation of specialized computer systems. Knowledge Discovery and Data (M.S.) applies to informatics fields like information processing and to computer science fields such as artificial intelligence.[9]

The Department of Informatics offers its own general degree Informatics Track in General Informatics (M.S.,Ph.D.), however doctoral candidates must have a specific research interest. Informatics Track in Interactive and Collaborative Technology (M.S.,Ph.D.) narrows its general degree to the field of human–computer interaction, with end parties as wholly human or man and machine. Software engineering is researched under the Informatics Track in Software (M.S.,Ph.D.) degree, as software development processes are directly related to human interaction and information systems.[9]

Three multi-discipline fields exist, spread across more than one school. Networked Systems (M.S.,Ph.D.) involves both the School of Engineering and the school of ICS. The research area covers high and low levels of telecommunications and computer networks. Arts Computation Engineering (M.S.), as its name suggests, covers both the School of Engineering and the Claire Trevor School of the Arts in addition to ICS. The field relies heavily on high level informatics principles, applying science to the arts. Informatics in Biology & Medicine (M.S.,Ph.D.), requires classes within the wide fields of Biology. Research may range from microscopic systems, such as proteins, or macro-level systems, such as populations.[9]

Though the Department of Statistics currently has no undergraduate degrees, it offers one graduate program: Statistics (M.S.,Ph.D.). The graduate program may help model many different problems, and is highly applicable to researchers in other fields such as economics and biology.[9]

Faculty, Staff, and Alumni

The current Dean of the Bren School is Hal S. Stern. Stern is a professor of statistics and, as dean, he holds the Ted and Janice Smith Family Foundation endowed chair in ICS.

Noteworthy alumni have graduated from the school, including: Roy Fielding, co-creator of Hypertext Transfer Protocol and the Apache HTTP Server;[10] Patrick Hanratty, CAD pioneer;[11] Paul Mockapetris, creator of Domain Name System and the first Simple Mail Transfer Protocol server;[12] Steven Joe, CEO of D-Link North America.[13]

Buildings and Computer Labs

The school currently has three associated buildings operational, providing over 100,000 square feet (10,000 m2) of space. Labs are located in each building, with over 500 administered computers total. All buildings are positioned adjacent to the School of Engineering at the South-East side of UCI's undergraduate campus.[14][15]

Computer lab, ICS364, with server room in the very back behind glass windows

The Information and Computer Science building (ICS), previously named the Computer Science building, is the primary facility for undergraduate instruction, consisting 24,416 square feet (2,268 m2) on 4 floors, opposite to the Engineering Tower (ET). The bottom (and first) floor links physically to ET's bottom floor, while the second floor shares the same plaza with the ET. The bottom floor consists of three instructional labs, CS183, CS189, and CS192—each lab contains 45 Microsoft Windows Server machines, used primarily as desktops for first year undergraduates. Lab CS193 is used for business related software projects for upper division undergraduates, and holds 24 Windows machines. Both the first and second floors contain instruction halls and classrooms, while the third and fourth primarily contain meeting and faculty offices, except for CS364.[16]

The building also has the largest computer lab, ICS364, containing 117 Windows, 12 Mac OS X, and 12 Sun Solaris Java boxes. The lab is also located next to the air conditioned server room, visible to each other through a large window.[16][17]

Information and Computer Science 2 (ICS2), is a narrow computing facility surrounding the South-East side of the ICS tower. ICS2 houses graduate offices in 9,731 square feet (904 m2) of space. It is also home to the Human Computer Interaction lab.[18]

Bren Hall is the latest addition to the school, completed in early 2007. It consists of 87,000 square feet (8,100 m2), making it the largest building in the ICS family. It houses offices for many ICS faculty and staff, in addition to the 4 lecture halls and 10 classrooms.[19]

Two former buildings, the Frank Gehry-designed ICS Engineering Research Facility (IERF, a 9,954-square-foot (925 m2) laboratory facility, with an added instruction hall and classroom) and Computer Science/Engineering (CS/E, a 6,681-square-foot (621 m2) office and facility building near Bren Hall and IERF) were demolished in January 2007.[20]

Associated bodies

Research organizations

ICS helped found the Ada Byron Research Center (ABRC), which helps minorities in the field of Computer Science. ABRC is named in honor of the 19th century female mathematician Ada Lovelace, a symbol for the underrepresented numbers of females studying computer science. ABRC aims at not only increases minority researchers, but closing the digital divide, the metaphorical gap between the technologically rich and poor. The current director is the Dean Richardson of ICS.[21]

The California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), is a multidisciplinary research organization within the University of California. UC Irvine and UC San Diego currently house the two Calit2 buildings. Calit2 attempts to bring theory to practice through its "top-down" "innovation" programs. Space at Irvine's Calit2 building is provided to any collaborative project that fits within Calit2's goals.[22][23]

LUCI, the Laboratory for Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction, serves as a focal point for research that follows the vision of ubiquitous computing. LUCI researchers are interested in the challenges of designing, using, and understanding the elements of a ubiquitous computing world. Some of these different facets include computing in the face of mobile computers and mobile users, understanding and exploring new patterns of socio-technical behavior, and the design and construction of technology which supports ubiquitous computing.

Student organizations

The ICS Student Council is the official student government of the school. The student council also acts as an umbrella organization for the other ICS organizations. It hosts regular social events, professional development events, networking events, and project teams. It coordinates the largest ICS event of the year, ICS Day, and also is involved in Corporate Outreach for the school.[24]

The ICS House is a 2 story on-campus house located within UCI's Arroyo Vista housing community. ICS House accepts a limited number (approx. 16) of students from the school of ICS or outstanding applicants, based upon an essay, community participation, and academic interest. Students participate in community events with the house, while providing a comfortable environment for those interested in technology. [25]

UC Irvine ACM (ACM) is UCI's student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery. ACM is an academic, vocational, and social club. Lectures, technology showcases, and corporate fairs are held regularly. ACM's premier event is the ACM Career Expo, which hosts a wide range of corporate booths, allowing students to network, meet prospective companies, and pass along resumes. ACM also regularly hosts social events such as barbecues and LAN parties at the ICS House.[26]

Women in Computer Science (WICS) is a student run organization to help and enourage women in the fields related to computer science. The club allows a supportive environment and social networking to promote success. ICS currently employs more full-time female faculty than the national average as the female undergraduate population is continuing to grow. [27]

Other student organizations include the Informatics Student Organization and Video Game Developers Club.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Bren School, About the school, 2006. URL accessed December 10, 2006.
  3. ^ a b UC Irvine, Headcounts by Academic Unit and Level, Fall 2006. URL accessed February 15, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d Bren School, Undergraduate degrees, 1 April 2011. URL accessed April 5, 2011.
  5. ^ Bren School, About the Bren gift, 2006. URL accessed December 10, 2006.
  6. ^ UC Irvine, Headcounts by Academic Unit and Level, Fall 2009. URL accessed February 15, 2010.
  7. ^
  8. ^ UC Irvine, Undergraduate Major in Computer Science and Engineering, 2006. URL accessed December 10, 2006.
  9. ^ a b c d e Bren School, Graduate Studies, Information on all the degrees offered by the school, 20 October 2006. URL accessed December 14, 2006.
  10. ^ Fielding, Roy T., Roy T. Fielding, Fielding's ICS homepage, 8 December 2003. URL accessed December 10, 2006.
  11. ^ Dalton-Taggart, Rachael, Gentleman Genius: Patrick Hanratty, History of CAD and Hanratty's contributions, November 2004. URL accessed December 10, 2006.
  12. ^ Nominum, Paul Mockapetris Chairman and Chief Scientist, Company biography of Paul Mockapetris, 2006. URL accessed December 10, 2006.
  14. ^ Bren School, Facts and figures, 2006. URL accessed December 10, 2006.
  15. ^ UC Irvine, Map of UCI, 2006. URL accessed December 10, 2006.
  16. ^ a b Bren School, ICS building floor plan, 2006. URL accessed December 10, 2006.
  17. ^ Bren School, ICS Lab Hardware, 2006. URL accessed December 10, 2006.
  18. ^ Bren School, ICS 2 building floor plan, 2006. URL accessed December 10, 2006.
  19. ^ Bren School, Bren Hall, 2006. URL accessed December 10, 2006.
  20. ^ Bren School, IERF building floor plan, 2006. URL accessed December 10, 2006. Bren School, CSE building floor plan, 2006. URL accessed December 10, 2006. UC Irvine destroys Frank Gehry building, Associated Press, January 23, 2007.
  21. ^ Williams, Michelle, New UCI center promotes diversity in technology fields, 8 January 2004. URL accessed December 10, 2006.
  22. ^ Calit2, About Us Overview , Calit2's official summary page, 2006. URL accessed December 10, 2006.
  23. ^ Cheung, Jonathan, About Us Overview , Calit2's official summary page, 2006. URL accessed December 10, 2006.
  24. ^ "ICS Student Council". Bren Webmaster. 05-08-2011. Retrieved 2011-05-15. 
  25. ^ "Arroyo Vista Academic Theme Houses For 2009". UCI Student Affairs. 05-11-2007. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  26. ^ "Welcome to ACM @ UCIrvine". UC Irvine ACM. 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  27. ^ Eramya, Ellen (2007). "WICS 2006/2007 - About WICS". UC Irvine. Retrieved 2007-04-16. 

External links

Coordinates: 33°38′36″N 117°50′31″W / 33.6432°N 117.842°W / 33.6432; -117.842

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