Summer @ Stonehill Pre-College Program: Computer Science

CSC 195 | How Computers Work | 3 credits | For rising junior, rising senior and graduating senior high school students


Course Description

How Computers Work, focuses on the technical issues associated with programming computers (software) down to the inner workings of the electronic components (hardware). Emphasis is on gaining personal experience by programming graphically through Logo. This is not a course about how to work with computers. It is a course about how computers work. You will learn how to build programs and how the computer makes those programs work.  When you finish this course, you will have an understanding of how computers work that will stand the test of time.  The principles we study will be relevant to how computers work 10 years from now as well as today.

Our Summer@Stonehill Pre-College Program is a high-demand program with a competitive application process. Applications will be now be accepted until May 31, 2017 with supporting materials due by June 15.

Course Instructor

Shai Simonson

Shai Simonson

Professor of Computer Science


  • B.A., Mathematics, Columbia College, New York, 1979
  • M.S., Computer Science, Northwestern University, Illinois, 1983
  • Ph.D., Computer Science, Northwestern University, Illinois, 1986


Why did you decide to study computer science and pursue a career in higher education?
Computer science is a great blend of mathematics, theory, and engineering.  I always liked mathematics, problem solving, and fixing things.  When I was young I would take things apart to see how they worked and rebuild my own versions.  Computer science lets me build things that test ideas.  I get to experiment, discover, and watch thoughts implemented electronically.  And, four years was not anywhere near enough time for me to learn what I wanted to know about the subject, so I planned to complete my Ph.D. from the very beginning.  

After my Ph.D., I never considered going full time to industry despite the high pay and good working conditions, because I love to teach.  There is nothing I enjoy more than sharing my joy of mathematics and engineering with interested students. In my graduate school summers, I used to teach sports at a local Chicago day camp, so that I would have time to work with kids.  This helped me decompress from the heavy math and engineering that I did all yearlong - it may be feel human.  Later on, I became a lecturer at my department, and I knew I would always want to be a professor. The job suits my temperament and fulfills my needs for interaction, fun, and mentoring

What has been your greatest experience as a professor at Stonehill?  
I cannot pin down a particular moment, but my best moments involve seeing a bright hard-working student succeed.  Success could mean something as simple as getting a program to finally run without any bugs, or as life-changing as being accepted to graduate school and completing a Ph.D. My greatest experiences is watching a student take what I offer them and turn it into his/her own happiness and fulfillment. A particular example that really excites me is when an undecided student takes my How Computers Work class, meant for a general audience, and is inspired to major in computer science.

Who is your favorite author? 
I read a lot of non-fiction, especially recreational science and mathematics.  My favorite author is Martin Gardner.  Gardner was popular writer of mathematics.  As I toiled through the standard mathematics curriculum, memorizing vocabulary and spitting back algorithms, I stumbled on Martin Gardner's Scientific American columns. I read every column and every book on recreational mathematics that he wrote. More than just a source of fun puzzles and good reading, Gardner's writing comforted me—I learned that mathematics could be investigative, experimental, alive, and fun.  I also read a lot of adventure memoirs: sailing, climbing, hiking etc.  My favorite author in that genre is Jon Krakauer.

What is your favorite movie?
There are too many excellent possibilities - many of which are obscure.  Narrowing the list down to popular movies, it is a tie between Shawshank Redemption and Forest Gump.

Where did you go to high school?
Yeshiva University High School, New York, NY

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