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Meet Our Professors: Nathan Barker, Computer Science and Information Systems


The technology field is growing rapidly, and Dr. Nathan Barker and his students are in the thick of it. Beginning his education at SUU as an undergrad with a fascination of binary numbers, Dr. Barker is now able to share his knowledge of computer science with students that hold the same passion for information technology as him.

 

 

Title
Associate Professor of Computer Science

Department
Computer Science and Information Systems

How long have you been working at SUU?
10 years

Where did you attend college and what did you study?
-Bachelor’s in Computer Science, Math, and German at Southern Utah University
-Doctorate in Computer Science at the University of Utah

When and how did you decide what you wanted your career to be?
During the summer after high school, I was talking with a friend of mine when he told me how you could represent any number using only a 1 or a 0. He then went on to explain the concept of binary. I was so fascinated by that, I decided to look into it further when I got to college. There were just so many interesting things to learn about computing that I decided to make it my career.  

What do you feel is the most interesting thing about your field?
Advances in technology are happening an exponential speed, from self-driving cars, drones, phones, smart devices, wearables, implantable devices, virtual reality, augmented reality, social media, and security. Computing is transforming almost every field of study we have today. It is such an exciting time to be in this field.

Favorite thing to teach about your subject?
There is quite a bit about computing that involves problem solving. One of my favorite ways to teach students how to solve problems involves the idea of recursion. Recursion is an idea that you can take a problem and break it into a smaller version of itself, and keep doing that until you have only the most basic of thing to solve. It is just so fun to watch as students think they totally get it, then they can’t use the idea on the most basic of problems, then gradually really come to an understanding of how to solve problems using the method, and finally see how powerful it can be. That is fun for me, but probably my students enjoy when I teach them how to create phone apps more than recursion.

What do you love about SUU?
SUU focuses on teaching. Professors here are asked to spend most of their time teaching students. This leads to an environment where students are able to come and learn from professors who focus on them, and are not spending the majority of their time on outside research projects. This approach worked great for me as a student. I was able to come to SUU and learn the fundamentals of my chosen field from professors who knew how to teach me those things. It gave me a solid foundation to be accepted into graduate schools across the country.