The New York Times has a great piece today by reporter Steve Lohr on computer science majors — what they do (“It’s so not programming,” one says), what the job market for their skills is like (pretty strong), and what some schools are doing to get the message out.
On campuses today, the newest technologists have to become renaissance geeks. They have to understand computing, but they also typically need deep knowledge of some other field, from biology to business, Wall Street to Hollywood. And they tend to focus less on the tools of technology than on how technology is used in the search for scientific breakthroughs, the development of new products and services, or the way work is done.
Edward D. Lazowska, a professor at the University of Washington, points to students like Mr. Michelson [who is going to medical school at Columbia after earning a computer science degree at Washington] as computer science success stories. The real value of the discipline, Mr. Lazowska said, is less in acquiring a skill with technology tools – the usual definition of computer literacy – than in teaching students to manage complexity; to navigate and assess information; to master modeling and abstraction; and to think analytically in terms of algorithms, or step-by-step procedures.
The piece would be a great read even without the quotes from CRA’s Government Affairs co-Chair Lazowska and current board Chair Dan Reed. And it’s a good antidote to the more dour pieces we’ve seen recently about the future of the field.
Give it a read: A Techie, Absolutely, and More