The State of Computer Science in the U. S. – Part 2. Mei-Ling L. Liu, Ph. D. in Computer Science Professor U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Macedonia http://www.csc.calpoly.edu/~mliu. An Identity Crisis. What exactly is Computer Science?. An engineering discipline? A mathematical science?
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The State of Computer Science in the U. S. – Part 2 Mei-Ling L. Liu, Ph. D. in Computer Science Professor U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Macedonia http://www.csc.calpoly.edu/~mliu
What exactly is Computer Science? An engineering discipline? A mathematical science? A study of computing technologies?
Computer science is as much about computers as astronomy is about telescopes. - Edsger Dijkstra Computer science involves questions that have the potential to change how we view the world. - Jim Morris (professor of computer science and dean of Carnegie Mellon University's West Coast campus ) We see computer science as a way of asking and attempting to answer some of the big questions that are really at the heart of a liberal-arts degree, be it in French, physics or philosophy. Big questions such as: Who are we? Where have we come from? What is consciousness? - Douglas Blank (Associate Professor Bryn Mawr College · Computer Science ) Source: http://www.aaai.org/AITopics/html/compsci.html
What Is Computing?- Curricula 2005 ACM • In a general way, we can define computing to mean any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computers. • Thus, computing includes designing and building hardware and software systems for a wide range of purposes; processing, structuring, and managing various kinds of information; doing scientific studies using computers; making computer systems behave intelligently; creating and using communications and entertainment media; finding and gathering information relevant to any particular purpose, and so on. • The list is virtually endless, and the possibilities are vast.
Significant developments of the 1990s- Curricula 2005 ACM • Computer engineering solidified its emergence from electrical engineering. • Computer science grew rapidly and became accepted into the family of academic disciplines. • Software engineering had emerged as an area within computer science.
Significant developments of the 1990s- Curricula 2005 ACM • Software engineering began to develop as a discipline unto itself. • Information systems had to address a growing sphere of challenges. • Information technology programs began to emerge in the late 1990s.
Significant developments of the 1990s- Curricula 2005 ACM “Collectively these developments reshaped the landscape of the computing disciplines. Tremendous resources were allocated to information technology activities in all industrialized societies because of various factors, including the explosive growth of the World Wide Web, anticipated Y2K problems and, in Europe, the launch of the Euro.”
Harder choices: How the disciplines might appear to prospective students. - Curricula 2005 ACM
Comparative weight of computing topics across the five kinds of degree programs - Curricula 2005 ACM
Comparative weight of non-computing topics across the five kinds of degree programs - Curricula 2005 ACM
The Irony of Supply and Demand
Many colleges are eliminating their IT academic programs due to low enrollments. • The dot-com crash of 2000 signaled the decline of enrollment in computer science and IT programs at community colleges. Students quickly embraced the idea that IT was dead and that a degree in engineering, medicine, or accounting guaranteed employment and career success. • Even though IT hiring is on the rise, colleges continue to perpetuate the death-of-IT myth by eliminating IT programs from their calendars and selling off their supporting infrastructure. - McLean ReportMcLean Report Industry Insights Research Note, February 2007
Is there a crisis? "There are more jobs in the U.S. today than there were at the height of the dot-com boom." - Stanford Professor Eric Roberts, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on Feb. 19 in San Francisco.
Is there a crisis? • "The field seems to have lost its luster." Waning interest largely has resulted from the prevalent but mistaken belief that computer science job opportunities have declined since the dot-com crash. • Media focus on off-shoring has heightened the perception that the U.S. computing industry is declining, raising the concern that jobs are rapidly moving to China and India. • Although demand for talent has led companies to seek new employees abroad, more new jobs are created each year in the U.S. high-tech industry than are moved overseas.
Is there a crisis? "We're training far fewer people than we need to fill the available positions."The problem not only has serious implications for the computing industry, but it also can severely hinder advances in other areas of science that have come to rely more and more on computing technology.
Is there a crisis? • The lack of adequate computer science education in high schools is another major factor contributing to the dire state of computer science enrollment in colleges. • The principle driver is economics. Lured by high salaries in the corporate world-salaries that will grow even higher as the gap widens between job opportunities and worker availability - few college graduates with computer science degrees choose to pursue the path of teaching in high schools.
Is there a crisis? “Computer science’s trouble lies in education, not jobs. We need to make sure there's a national effort that's supported by government, industry and professional societies, to encourage people to study computing."
A growing Gender Gap
WOMEN IN COMPUTING: A SHRINKING SHARE A report from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that the proportion of women in computer and information sciences has dwindled in the past 20 years, especially compared with other fields in mathematics and sciences. The center's statistics lump computer science with information science, which tends to have a larger percentage of women. • SOURCE: U.S Department of Education http://chronicle.comSection: Information TechnologyVolume 52, Issue 19, Page A35
The gap in male and female degree earners in computer science widened in recent years. • Computer sciences bachelor's and associate's degrees earned by women dropped sharply in 2004, as did computer sciences associate's degrees earned by men. • The female share of bachelor's degrees in computer sciences dropped between 1985 and 2004 from 37 to 25 percent, as the number of such degrees awarded to women was about the same in 2004 as in 1985.
Has our success become our failure?”Is computer science still relevant?”, Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges June 2006 “As computer scientists are successful at developing easy-to-use interfaces, end-user programming environments, and embedded appliances, the standing of Computer Science as a discipline is now questioned. While programming in Assembly and C is considered highly specialized and almost an art, new hypertext markup and scripting languages and highly graphical languages such as Visual Basic have reduced the complexity of programming to the point where it seems as if formal training in Computer Science is no longer needed. Tools such as word-processors, spreadsheet and presentation software have become intuitive enough that many people can learn how to use them without specialized instruction.”
Has our success become our failure?”Is computer science still relevant?”, Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges June 2006 “The Internet has transformed itself from a computing application to a powerful communication medium and information source easily accessible with minimal knowledge of computers. Furthermore, it has facilitated outsourcing, reducing even more the appeal of Computer Science as a college major leading to attractive, high-paying technical jobs.”
Has our success become our failure?”Is computer science still relevant?”, Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges June 2006 “Faced with the prospect of completing a difficult, technically challenging degree only to face the uncertainty of a shrinking job market and relatively low salaries, more students turn away from Computer Science and choose other majors – business, economics, medicine, etc. Even those who are technically inclined opt for such fields as Biology and Biochemistry.”
Why students with an apparent aptitude for computer science don't choose to major in computer science Based on analysis of survey results: • High school students are severely lacking in experience with computing, particularly in formal classroom experience. • The vast majority of students had no concept of what a Computer Science major entails. -- Lori Carter March 2006 ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, Proceedings of the 37th SIGCSE technical symposium on Computer science education SIGCSE '06
Why students with an apparent aptitude for computer science don't choose to major in computer science Based on analysis of survey results: • The top reasons for not choosing a CS major for both male and female were the lack of desire to sit in front of a computer all day, and the fact that they had already chosen another major. -- Lori Carter March 2006 ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, Proceedings of the 37th SIGCSE technical symposium on Computer science education SIGCSE '06
Why students with an apparent aptitude for computer science don't choose to major in computer science Based on analysis of survey results: • The number one reason to choose a CS major for men was their interest in computer games, and for women was their desire to use it in another field. • The students’ understanding of the amount of money to be made in the field was not a significant influence in the choice not to study Computer Science. -- Lori Carter March 2006 ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, Proceedings of the 37th SIGCSE technical symposium on Computer science education SIGCSE '06
So how do we fix the problem?
Informing the Public about the Discipline Computer Science departments are making an effort to explain to prospective students what the discipline is about. • The University of Washington has produced and distributed videos that answer these questions: Why do undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty choose computer science & engineering as their field? What takes place during a day in the life of a CSE alum working in the software or Internet industry? http://www.cs.washington.edu/WhyCSE/ • The Department of Computing Sciences of Villanova University has a web page entitled “Why Consider a Computer Science Major?”
Improve Public Awareness ACM Bulletin ServiceToday's Topic: New Computing Careers Brochure for High School StudentsMarch 8, 2007 • A new brochure, “Computing Degrees and Careers," prepared by ACM, the IEEE Computer Society, and the Association for Information Systems (AIS), aims to counter the many misperceptions circulating among high school students, their parents, and teachers about careers in the computing field. • An accompanying website provides additional details, including the "Top 10 Reasons to Major in Computing," and "Skills You’ll Learn If You Study Computing."
Top 10 Reasons to Major in Computingaccording to the ACM • 1. Computing drives innovation in the sciences (human genome project, AIDS vaccine research, environmental monitoring and protection just to mention a few), so if you want to make a positive difference in the world, study computing. • 2. Computing majors will provide you with a foundational knowledge of problem solving and logical thinking that will be helpful to you no matter what you choose to do in life. • 3. Computing technology is part of just about everything that touches our lives; from the cars we drive, to the movies we watch, to the ways banks and governments deal with us. Understanding computer science is part of the necessary skill set for an educated person in this century. Whether you want to be a scientist, develop the latest killer application, or just know what it really means when someone says “the computer made a mistake”, studying computing will provide you with valuable knowledge. • 4. Computing jobs are among the highest paid and have the highest job satisfaction. • 5. Contrary to popular belief there are more, and not fewer jobs. U.S. IT employment was 17% higher in 2004 than in 1999. Computing also has the greatest potential for new jobs through 2014.
Top 10 Reasons to Major in Computingaccording to the ACM • 6. Computing drives innovation in the sciences (human genome project, AIDS vaccine research, environmental monitoring 6. Contrary to what some people believe, computer scientists are real people. They have lives. They have friends. They do not sit in a cubicle pounding out code 18 hours per day. • 7. You do not have to be a nerd to be a computer scientist. You do not have to to live, eat, and breathe computing to be a good computer scientist. You can have a life, relationships, a family. • 8. Computing is not about being a lone wolf. It is about being part of a team that requires people with many different kinds of skills. • 9. An increasing number of universities and employers see successful completion of a computer science course as a sign of academic well-roundedness. • 10. Computing is one of those fields where it is almost impossible to predict what will happen next. This is why we cannot even begin to imagine all the ways that you can make a contribution to it and it can make your life’s work exciting and real.
Improving Pre-college Education The ACM helped to launch the Computer Science Teachers Association,a membership organization that supports and promotes the teaching of computer science and other computing disciplines. CSTA provides opportunities for K-12 teachers and students to better understand the computing disciplines and to more successfully prepare themselves to teach and learn.
Revamping the Discipline • Reorient computer science to deal more directly with societal problems in interdisciplinary teams, • Increase emphasis on education through active learning and service-oriented team projects. • Pursue universal usability to inspire advanced research in how to provide an exciting and educational user experience on low-bandwidth networks and small displays. • Maria Klawe and Ben Shneiderman, CACM-10-2005.
Redefining the CSC Degree A BS in Computer Science at Georgia Tech is now defined as any two threads. While any one thread only contains some of what might be called “core” topics, every thread combination has enough overlap with the “core” to be called a computer science degree by nearly any definition. Any given thread combination can lead to several careers.