Monday, September 18, 2006

Is Computer Science losing its coolness?

The Seattle Times has just run an interesting story, titled Where'd The Whiz Kids Go?, on the lack of CS students in Washington Universities. It seems that this is a nation-wide problem that has gotten big enough to get the attention of politicians.

From the article:

"... despite the seemingly limitless potential of computers, educators are having a tougher time than ever convincing students to pursue the field. It can be hard work. Boring, even. And there's that enduring, if unfair, image problem. Picture the socially inept geek hunched over a screen at 3 a.m., Coke in hand, pecking away at pages of incomprehensible code.

'There was such a boom of interest in the '90s, and now you get the sense around the country that computer science is past its prime. But the most exciting stuff is still in front of us.'

Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to add workers locally at the rate of 4,000 a year. In this year's record class of 5,400 UW freshmen, 300 say they're hoping to graduate in computer science or engineering. Even if none dropped out or changed majors, the class of 2010 wouldn't amount to a month's supply of new workers needed just at Microsoft's Redmond campus."
There certainly does not seem to be an easy solution to this shortage. It is also interesting to note that the ACT 2006 National Report shows that 2.05% of test takers are interested in at least a 4-year Computer Science or Math degree.