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Partnerships Power New SUNY Potsdam Computer Science Program

September 18, 2020

Industry-Sponsored Experiential Learning Enrich Academics For SUNY Potsdam Computer Science Students

The new Computer Science Action on Tech Outreach program at SUNY Potsdam will help computer science majors to build relationships with partner companies and increase skills critical to placement in rewarding careers.

A new experiential learning program at SUNY Potsdam is drawing on a tradition of hands-on education — this time to enrich the academic experience of its students of computer science.

The College announced the Computer Science Action on Tech Outreach (CATO) program on Tuesday. The initiative gives computer science majors opportunities to participate in state-of-the-art, industry-sponsored projects as part of their curriculum. The initiative helps position the SUNY Potsdam Department of Computer Science to reach its 100 percent placement rate of graduates into some of the most desirable and high-paying jobs in the modern workplace.

“The CATO program will provide Potsdam's CS majors with the opportunity to build relationships with partner companies and gain insight in specific technical areas — so the students have more and better opportunities when they graduate,” said Chris Lanz, associate professor of computer science at SUNY Potsdam. “The real-world experiences and relationships they will gain via the CATO program will further increase their market value. It’s also a lot of fun for our students to work on cutting edge industry projects while they attend school.”

The Department of Computer Science is using the College’s Potsdam Connect software program to help employers engage in a variety of applied learning activities. Potsdam’s computer science majors have experienced successful careers ever since the department first opened its doors in 1969, and have leveraged the power of relationships along the way. A significant number of computer science graduates have formed a robust industry network that helps populate the department’s board of advisors and provides contacts for developing state-of-the-art projects for SUNY Potsdam computer science majors to work on.

“SUNY Potsdam’s computer science program enjoys incredibly strong support from our ever-growing group of alumni, a group that is always eager to give back to the program and the students we now serve,” said Department Chair Laura Grabowski. “Our hope is that this new initiative will further solidify our great alumni network and provide our students with even more opportunities in industry.”

Student projects through the CATO program will range from small, shorter-term efforts to possible capstone experiences — a degree requirement that gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired in the classroom and lab, typically through an internship under the direction of an industry sponsor or under the direction of CS faculty.

Students will hone their skills in developing software linkages between platforms or programs, web-data extraction and analysis, storage and access of experimental data, user-interface development, digital simulation and other expertise.        

The breadth that CATO adds to the academic experience is sure to increase industry demand for SUNY Potsdam graduates, Lanz predicted.

“SUNY Potsdam’s computer science major provides an incredible value with highly respected professors and curriculum, low tuition fees, merit scholarships and awards, and now the CATO experiential learning program,” said Lanz. “The results are evident with the high starting salaries that our graduating students can command.”

The SUNY Potsdam Department of Computer Science immerses its students in the nature of and limits to computation; the architecture of computer systems, networks, devices and languages, and their abstractions; the design of hardware and software systems as they apply to human endeavors such as scientific inquiry, information acquisition, visualization, language and leisure, and the engineering of complex software systems. A computer science degree prepares students for a rewarding career as a computer professional or for further study in graduate school. To learn more, visit

About SUNY Potsdam:

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit

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