Gates touts computer science
By Todd Bishop
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
Does the U.S. computer-science industry need a Sputnik moment?
It wouldn’t hurt, Bill Gates said yesterday, answering a question from a university researcher about declining computer-science enrollment and concerns over funding for science and math programs. The Microsoft Corp. chairman said it might take a big technological advance somewhere else in the world to direct the attention of the nation’s leaders to the issue in the same way that the Soviet Union’s 1957 Sputnik launch accelerated development of the U.S. space program.
“It’s not like when you see presidential debates you hear them talk about the number of engineering degrees being received in the United States,” Gates said. He cited the possible need for a “crisis moment” that brings attention to the issue.
“You shouldn’t discount the value of a good alien invasion,” quipped Rick Rashid, the senior vice president in charge of Microsoft Research. Often that’s the way it works in science-fiction novels, Rashid explained.