Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Computer Scientists Crisis?

Last July, Rick Rashid, Senior VP of Microsoft Research, published an interesting [discussion] paper in Communications of the ACM (see the paper here) about the future of computer science in the U.S. His first sentence was trick for a first look: "Is computer science a dying profession? ".

He argues that a recent UCLA survey in 2006, 1% of incoming freshman planned to major in computer science, compared with 5%, 25 years ago. In addition, he states that in 2007 occurred a one-year drop of almost 20% in computer science and computer engineering degrees and more than half of M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees granted by U.S. universities were awarded to non-U.S. citizens.

On the other hand, everybody knows that the demands for services in the area is increasing a lot and it can be a problem soon [for some people it is happening currently].

One of Rick's issue now is try to understand why this interest is decreasing. If we talk about women the problem is still bigger. So, what Can we do? I do not know exactly the numbers in Brazil, but I know that the Brazilian Computer Society is working on this direction, especially, about women in computer science. In my environment, at C.E.S.A.R there are initial and interesting initiatives to improve this situation. Called Education for the Future, it combines researchers and practitioners from different areas where C.E.S.AR is starting Games Labs Lan Houses, Academic Social Networks for undergraduate students. The initial results are being very good and it will be better in the future with new investments from government, funding agencies and private companies.

Other good initiative is the Alice project or other incredibles one at Carnegie Mellon University. A good place to discuss it is the IEEE Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training (CSEE&T). This year, I presented our experience with software reuse and I could see good efforts in the software engineering are. About this conference, the call for paper is available for the next year.

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