Restoring the popularity of Computer Science

Summary:Over the past five years, the number of student's majoring in CS has declined precipitously. Data suggests that this is an overreaction and that CS is still a fine career choice.

David Patterson, is president of the ACM and respected Computer Science researcher.  Among many other things, his research was the foundation for Sun's SPARC processor. As ACM president, he writes a monthly letter in Communications of the ACM.  They are usually worth reading, but unfortunately hard to get online.  It seems odd to me that an organization that wants to be influential should go to such great lengths to make it's material hard to find.  But, that's a different story...

This story is about Dr. Patterson's latest missive on restoring the popularity of Computer Science (CS).  The letter starts out by acknowledging that the number of students studying or wanting to study CS is down over the past 6 years.  For women it's at an all time low.  The conventional wisdom is that after the dot-com bubble there are fewer jobs in IT and that most of those are being outsourced.  Patterson is trying to dispel that myth.  Here's one quote from the article:

Does anyone besides me know that U.S. IT employment was 17% higher [in 2004] than in 1999--5% higher than the bubble in 2000 and showing an 8% growth in the most recent year--and that the compound annual growth rate of IT wages has been about 4% since 1999 while inflation has been just 2% per year?  Such growth rates swamp predictions of the outsourcing job loss in the U.S., which most studies estimate to be 2% to 3% per year for the next decade. 

The general feel of gloom and doom that has pervaded the IT industry over the last 5 years has made a lot of people wonder about their future.  I've always been optimistic.  So, tell your sons, and especially your daughters, that CS is alive and kicking and that it's not only a lucrative career choice, but that's it's fun and interesting as well.  I'm confident that they won't be sorry for their choice of major, regardless of where their career takes them.

Topics: IT Employment

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