Sunday, November 20, 2005

Where have all the computer scientists gone?

Where have all the computer scientists gone?

What's wrong with this picture?

"The U.S. Bureau of Labor Standards says software development and engineering are among the Top 10 fastest-growing occupations through 2012."

"The nationwide percentage of incoming college freshmen who want to major in computer sciences declined by more than 60 percent from 2000 to 2004, and is now 70 percent lower than peak levels in the early 1980s."

I'm mystified myself. I often wish that I had studied CS when I was at Stanford, and can't imagine why its popularity has fallen to such low levels.

Of course, one alternate explanation, advanced by Paul Graham, is that one doesn't need a CS degree to be a great hacker.

The editorial I pulled these stats from hints at this point:
"Computers, video games and iPods, among other devices, give today's students a familiarity with technology not possible by earlier generations. We need to channel the enthusiasm of early adopters of the latest video games into a transferable technical skill they will pursue for the rest of their lives."

It would be interesting to measure how the percentage of those who describe themselves as hackers, or can write code, has changed over the years.

And, as I've mentioned before, I think that educational games are one of the most promising areas for the next 25 years.

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