Daniel Lemire's blog

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The Geomblog: Do we really need more students in CS ?

3 thoughts on “The Geomblog: Do we really need more students in CS ?”

  1. Seb says:

    The question remains whether universities are the best places to learn about computers. The main CS guy in our group here in Moncton hasn’t gone to the university, and he’s mightily capable. Personal projects, online developer communities, and online learning resources go a long way towards both learning the craft and becoming apt to keep up to date and perform just-in-time learning as is required in a CS-related job.

  2. No doubt you are correct. In fact, I learned pretty much everything I know on my own, and if I relied only on the knowledge I acquired in university courses, I’d be a pretty limited man.

    We can wonder how a prof. who never participated in a major development effort, can actually teach students how to do software engineering? How can you teach something you don’t know.

    This is why medical doctorates are given by doctors and so on. Once you step into vocational training, you go outside the standard university model. It has many consequences… for example, one can be reviewed not only on the basis of his publications, but also on his professional expertise. Did this guy run a $10 million software project or not? Did this guy implement a new knowledge management tool for a large corporation or not?

    That’s why I ask what an “IT professor” is… it is really akin to being a professor in library science, for example.

    Ok, so do you need a M.A. in library science to work in a library… absolutely not. Will you get a librarian job with a large library without a M.A. in library science, doubtful.

    The world is full of overqualified people. You don’t need a Ph.D. to teach a university course… yet, most new instructor positions are now filled with people having a Ph.D.

  3. “The question remains whether universities are the best places to learn about computers.”

    The best place? Maybe not. Certainly, a CS degree isn’t necessary to be a sysadmin. Or an “informal” programmer. Or a systems integrator. CS majors may take those jobs to start out with, because those are the sorts of tasks entrusted to junior people. However, there comes a time in many software projects’ life cycles when one needs to consider issues like computation complexity (it may be when the customers complain that the product is unusably slow). Then the CS degree will matter. If positions like that (and many others; those were just examples) aren’t in someone’s career path, then a CS degree is and over-qualification).

    And that’s why I have no problem with students leaving CS for IT, any more than someone in electrical engineering would worry about those who opt instead to become electricians. Whether IT should be taught in universities is another matter.