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Jim Morris's Thought of the Week (or month, or year, ...)

Monday, November 06, 2006

The US Needs a Sputnik

The figures for students entering computer science are dismal. There are fewer CS students now than in 1980! At the same time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects huge job growth in the computing sector in the next 30 years. US science students prefer biology, where many fewer jobs will exist in this same period of time.

If this situation continues, all those computer jobs will be filled by others, and the US will become a nation of lawyers, plumbers, and hairdressers.

Sputnik allowed Eisenhower to create ARPA which created computer science and all that followed from it. The palpable threat from Japan’s semiconductor industry in the 1980s created Sematech and the Semiconductor Research Council, which sustained the US lead in semiconductors.

Unfortunately, the erosion of computer science in the US and its rapid growth in Asia is not palpable. Companies can offshore the work, and the defense sector doesn’t appear to be concerned. Foreign hackers defacing DoD web sites is just not as frightening as Sputnik was. Can anybody think of an event that would get the President’s attention?

posted by Jim Morris @ 10:56 AM 

Blogger cr33tic said...

One of the reasons why I believe computer science enrolment is decreasing is the portrayal of the discipline among the public. In Asia, computer science is generally lauded upon as an exciting field to study in, particular due to the recent explosion of technology development in China and the huge need for software engineers there. Whereas in the States, people envision a computer science related occupation to be one that involves sitting in front of a computer 24/7 mashing up code.

9:09 PM  

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