Meet “Accelerated CS”

Exciting news! The New Beginnings program has undergone a transformation. This includes changing the name of the program from “New Beginnings” to “Accelerated CS.” This change is more straight forward and informative for prospective students! As Accelerated CS is an accelerated computer science program, this new title is in direct correlation to our mission for new students.

Congratulations Leila and Logan!

Congrats to: Logan Blakely, MS, “Spectral Clustering for Phase Identification using AMI Voltage Profiles” Leila Hawana, MS, “Knowing Without Knowing: Real-Time Usage Identification of Computer Systems” for successfully defending their theses Fall term!


Leila and Logan were part of the 2016-17 New Beginnings cohort.

A ‘day in the life’: hearing from former New Beginnings students.

Can you describe what it was like transitioning from your previous career to computer science?

“I was content with my choices and I realized the transition was worth it. So in short it was a little hard at first, but worth it in the end.”

“The work I did before New Beginnings used a bit of scripting to manage data. I did this for about a year, and it ended up being a great way to transition into academic CS.”

Looking back, what are ways you could have prepared for the NB program?

“Made sure I was sharp on all math-related coursework, studied up on discrete mathematics (to make first term go easier), and look into intro to CS (what is this all about) and get some ideas for things you can do once you know more. Also, just make sure you are rested and not burnt out. That is CRUCIAL. You cannot start this program feeling worn out instead of excitement.”

What was your typical day in the NB program?

“Wake up, get ready, breakfast, head to school, hang out in the lounge before class/chat with classmates, attend class, study session (if scheduled with other students), personal time (gym, nap, music, etc)/head home, study more, make dinner/relax, study more if needed, sleep.”

How much time did you spend out of class on the work?

“5-6 hours/day weekdays, most of day on weekends. This varies though based upon the complexity of the coursework. Sometimes, this much time would not be necessary.”

How does your master level coursework compare to the New Beginnings coursework?

“It is about the same or easier than the New Beginnings coursework. The concepts are more specialized which gives you time to go more in depth in topics rather than have huge breadth. In that sense they are different and present their own challenges. However, in terms of workload, it is similar if you are a full time student. One interesting note though is that you are now mixed in with everyone rather than just your cohort, so at times it may feel a tad easier than the new beginnings program because of that.”

What do you need to become a graduate assistant in the master’s program?

“Master your fundamentals in the New Beginnings program, get used to explaining and simplifying your concepts, and be interested in helping others. Those three things will set you up for success coming out of new beginnings and make you a quality TA.”

Any additional advice/tips/wisdom you would like to share?

“Make this your primary focus, keep a balanced lifestyle, make friends, and have fun. The cohort is probably the most special thing about this program and it sticks with you throughout your master’s program, so make sure you take full advantage of it. Also, you will learn a lot of material and you will learn it fast. Do all you can to get in depth with it but realize you will be getting a lot more breadth than depth.Keep up and don’t give up!”


Enrichment Day – Visit to Tripwire

There are many factors that make New Beginnings so unique.  To name a few:

  • students complete the prerequisite courses to PSU’s graduate Computer Science program in about half the time of our traditional pathway
  • students work with a small team of faculty and cohort
  • pass/fail grading to allow students to focus on areas for growth rather than overall grade point average

What really makes New Beginnings so unique is the opportunity we provide our students to network with local software companies, also known as…Enrichment Days.

Fridays, or as we like to call them, Enrichment Days, with New Beginnings are spent touring the many local software companies near downtown Portland.  During these visits students get to meet the software engineers and learn about the company, a day in the life, and what qualities they seek in applicants.  Each visit includes a tour of the company’s space and lunch!

Last Friday, our students visited Tripwire.  Located in the World Trade Center building in downtown Portland, Tripwire is a leading provider of integrity assurance solutions that drive security, compliance and operational excellence (  During this visit our students had a conversation over lunch with a few of the directors of the company.  Here they were able to learn more about the hiring process and what the company looks for in applicants.  Afterwards, the students received a tour of the company and got an inside look in the work space and culture of the employees.  To end the visit, the students met some software engineers where they were able to ask more about the day-to-day operations of the employees.

Our current New Beginnings cohort is finishing up their second of three terms in the program so they have already participated in other Enrichment Days.  This was apparent in the way they presented themselves at Tripwire, how they articulated their skills and interests, and the quality of questions they asked.  This is just one of the many reasons why former New Beginnings students are the most competitive graduate students at securing internships and jobs.


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