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May 01, 2006

CS Faculty Opine on CS in Computerworld

Just a quick pointer to an interesting Computerworld article featuring comments from Kenneth Berman, Randy Bryant, John Canny, Jaime Carbonell, Bernard Chazelle, and William Dally on the current state of computer science. Here's a snippet:

  • How can CS be made a more attractive choice for students?

    Bryant: We should stop scaring them away. Predicting that all IT jobs will move offshore could become self-fulfilling. New jobs are growing faster than old jobs are moving offshore, and that trend will continue. We need to stop putting them to sleep. Students who take computer science classes in high school are taught how to write programs in Java, and their assignments have them writing code that does tedious things like sort lists of numbers. They do not learn about any of the big ideas of computer science.

    Chazelle: I roll my eyes when I hear students say, "CS is boring, so I'll go into finance." Do they know how dull it is to spend all-nighters running the numbers for a merger-and-acquisition deal? No.

    People have run away from CS because they are worried about outsourcing. This is a valid concern that can't be waved away by simply repeating the mantra that CS is cool.

    Dally: We need to clear up many misconceptions about the field. Prospective students should understand that there are plenty of CS jobs in the U.S. and they pay well, that most CS jobs involve working with teams of people and place a premium on communication skills and teamwork -- it's not just a bunch of nerds working individually at terminals -- and that CS is so central to so many aspects of our economy that a CS education is good preparation for many careers.

    Canny: We're losing in quality -- principally to bioengineering, which is now the best students' top choice -- and diversity. It's a problem of social relevance. Minorities and women moved fastest into areas such as law and medicine that have obvious and compelling social impact. We've never cared much about social impact in CS.

  • Read the whole thing.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at May 1, 2006 10:21 AM
    Posted to R&D in the Press