Student life in the Department

Being a student has changed over time, but the excitement of being part of the computing revolution is new for every generation of students.

Studying in the Department

As a young student I unexpectedly found myself associated with a group of people who were operating one of the largest electronic machines in the country. The laboratory was a very interesting place … where we all helped each other.

Peter Thorne, about the late 1950s

In 1969 computing was very novel. The courses were oriented to numerical analysis. The differences between the late 60s (5 academic staff, one mainframe computer) and the current time are massive. One lecturer actually wore a gown when lecturing, although it was rare even then.

Jim Breen

I remember the enthusiasm of the staff and the feeling that we were all part of something new and exciting.

Cathie Jilovsky, about her time as a student in 1970–71

I was a first year student in 1975. (The course) introduced me to computing, which has fascinated me ever since. The access to hands-on hardware was very new.

Graham Menhennit

In the 1980’s in order to the cope with the increasing number of students from the department, and across the university, who were undertaking introductory programming courses, the university installed a number of mini-computer based MONECS (Monash Educational Computer System) systems. Students entered their programs by using a paperclip to push out chads on pre-punched cards or marked cards with a pencil.

Peter Thorne

We will see them

Students from the Department have gone on to influential roles in academia and industry.

The best thing I got from my studies was the career which ensued as a result — and I have to say I enjoyed the earlier days when we were forging the new frontiers.

Peter Garriga

My first summer in the department, in 1995/6 was memorable — a tight-knit group of quirky, dedicated scientists, supportive of undergraduates. Lots of ‘culture’ around UNIX, functional and logic programming. I’m still friends and colleagues with many of the people I got to know that summer. For years, it defined the music I listened to, and the topics I spoke about. I’m still fond of that time, but I’m also glad to have grown up since then!

Tony Wirth

I am very confident that the early Information Systems students will go on to be among the leaders of the IS profession in Australia in the future. We will see them.

Mike Vitale

In 2013 the Technophilia team from the Departments’ Interaction Design Lab described themselves as “one insatiable, speed-reading, blog-burning, demon design team.”


Theory of Computation Students, circa 1965, University of Melbourne. MSE-CIS Heritage Collection.
Theory of Computation II Students, 1969. MSE-CIS Heritage Collection
Computer Science laboratory with Andrew Conway, Ivan Hamilton, Barry Brannan and John Henrikson, c1989. Image courtesy University of Melbourne Archives.
Behnaz Rostami was a part of the Department student team that won second prize in the OzCHI conference 24 hour design challenge, for their project re-imagining email. Photo by Sarah Ellen Webber.
DIS Computer Lab, c1997. Image courtesy University of Melbourne.
Computer lab with Macs, c1989. Image courtesy University of Melbourne.
Computer Science and Software Engineering students Laura Zalcman and David Kent with their team’s Rational Argument Mapping and Visualisation software at ICT Panorama 2006. Image courtesy Paul Richiardi.

View full size images in photo gallery