Increasing the Undergraduate Study of Programing and Software

Posted on June 12, 2011  Comments (3)

There is a role for computer science. It also seems to me there is a much larger role for some study of computing (programing, databases, software, technology) that isn’t actually computer science. Where exactly this should go into an undergraduate school, I am not sure. But it seems to me, an understanding of computing is extremely important to those that want to lead in the next 40 years and we should be able to put more of that into undergraduate studies.

Computer Studies Made Cool, on Film and Now on Campus

The number of computer science degrees awarded in the United States began rising in 2010, and will reach 11,000 this year, after plummeting each year since the end of the dot-com bubble in 2004, according to the Computing Research Association, which tracks enrollment and degrees. Enrollment in the major peaked around 2000, with the most degrees β€” 21,000 β€” awarded four years later. The number of students who are pursuing the degree but have not yet declared their major increased by 50 percent last year.

To capitalize on the growing cachet of the tech industry, colleges nationwide, including Stanford, the University of Washington and the University of Southern California, have recently revamped their computer science curriculums to attract iPhone and Facebook-obsessed students, and to banish the perception of the computer scientist as a geek typing code in a basement.

Even universities not known for computer science or engineering, like Yale, are seizing the moment. The deans of the Ivy League engineering schools recently started meeting to hatch ways to market β€œthe Ivy engineer.”

The new curriculums emphasize the breadth of careers that use computer science, as diverse as finance and linguistics, and the practical results of engineering, like iPhone apps, Pixar films and robots, a world away from the more theory-oriented curriculums of the past.

I think the basic thrust of this move is good. I am not sure if it is really right to expand computer science to make it more attractive or to instead create something else. Computer engineering would seem to be one option, but I am not sure that is really right either. We do need computer scientists, but frankly we need maybe 100 or 1,000 times more programmers. And we need many other UX designers, program managers that understanding technology and programing, database administrators, system administrators… and really these people don’t need computer science backgrounds.

On a separate topic we also need better ways for everyone to understand technology better. We need good course for those majoring in economics, business, philosophy, English, political science… Understanding technology and how it works is fundamental to managing in the world we live in today and will live in.

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3 Responses to “Increasing the Undergraduate Study of Programing and Software”

  1. Maria Olaru
    June 16th, 2011 @ 8:22 am

    I had to learn about programming and Web technologies on my own, after graduating in an unrelated field. I started on Wikipedia and it’s a slow learning curve for me. I see how it can benefit everyone if taught early.

  2. gregg
    June 17th, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

    I graduated in 2000 with a software engineering degree. Just at the peak in the job market. I remember having 3 full newspaper classified adds for employment. I could pick anywhere to work after graduation. It wasn’t a year later and the newspaper was down to less than one page.
    The engineering curriculum was focused on C++ and industrial type programming, nothing about web programming was taught. This I done on my own.
    I agree with your article and truly believe that the base of computing in general has grown exponentially.
    I can understand the major universities trying to attract potential students by making the curriculum seem more hip and fun but, it doesn’t make the programming concepts ant easier. You may not have to look like a nerd but, the nerd brain has to be there.

  3. abhinav
    November 1st, 2016 @ 10:03 am

    Interesting to know about people (comments) having to learn software programming by themselves. Today concepts have changed and software has become more complex. They are integrated with web and software as a service and cloud computing has become more important. Still, there is the gap in demand and supply of resources.

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