[ISN] Tech's Major Decline

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Aug 28 2002 - 02:08:59 PDT

  • Next message: InfoSec News: "[ISN] South Korea probes online dealing fraud"

    Forwarded from: William Knowles <wkat_private>
    By Ellen McCarthy
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, August 27, 2002; Page E01 
    If John Yandziak had been entering college a few years ago, he might
    have sought a stake in the "new" economy. He might have dreamed of
    becoming an ace code-cracker for the CIA or the National Security
    Agency, or imagined toppling an empire with revolutionary software.  
    Maybe he would have tried to use the Internet to end world hunger.
    But as Yandziak attends his first college classes this week, he's
    harboring different academic ambitions. The Ashburn native says he
    wants to do something more social and more interesting than working
    with computers.
    Besides, he said while packing for a Charlottesville dormitory room,
    "you can't get the chicks with that anymore."
    The tech industry's financial problems are enough to bankrupt the
    dreams of some fair-weather students. But now there's another
    consequence of the tech bust: Enrollment growth in undergraduate
    computer science departments has come to a halt.
    The number of undergraduates majoring in computer science fell 1
    percent in 2001, according to a report by the Computing Research
    Association. And educators in the field say the trend seems to be
    accelerating, with some colleges seeing much greater drops as the new
    academic year begins.
    The word is out among department deans that the bust's fallout has
    trickled into the classroom, said Maria Clavez, president of the
    Association of Computing Machinery.
    "I've heard everything from no change to modest decline to more
    dramatic declines," said Clavez, who will become the dean of science
    and engineering at Princeton University in January. "It can be hard to
    see this, because at some colleges the number of people who want to
    study computer science so far exceeds the available space. [But] it is
    going to have an effect."
    At Virginia Tech, enrollment of undergraduates in the computer science
    department will drop 25 percent this year, to 300. At George
    Washington University, the number of incoming freshmen who plan to
    study computer science fell by more than half this year.
    Interest in undergraduate computer science programs had grown rapidly
    in the past decade. In 1997, schools with PhD programs in computer
    science and computer engineering granted 8,063 degrees, according to
    the Computing Research Association. The numbers rose through 2001,
    when 17,048 degrees were awarded.
    The Labor Department projects that software engineering will be the
    fastest-growing occupation between 2000 and 2010, with other
    computer-related industries trailing close behind.
    But in the short term that growth may slow, based on the changes among
    college students. For example, 900 of the 2,000-plus undergraduates
    studying information technology and engineering at George Mason
    University were computer science majors last year. This year the
    enrollment in that major is down to 800, although a newly created and
    more general information technology major has attracted 200 students.
    "Having it ease off for a while is a bit of a relief," said Lloyd
    Griffith, dean of George Mason's information technology and
    engineering school. "Particularly with the field as it has been, they
    don't want to spend four years on something and then not get a job."
    Freshman enrollment for the University of Maryland's computer science
    major is expected to be about 167 this fall, down from 329 last year.  
    Maryland decreased its total freshman enrollment by 11 percent, but
    that alone does not account for the drop, said Steve Halperin, dean of
    Maryland's College of Computer, Mathematical and Physical Sciences.
    "We are seeing a decrease in the number of freshmen who are declaring
    their interest in pursuing computer science as a major," Halperin
    said. "That's a factual statement. But I would say that at this point
    . . . we don't expect to see a decrease in the number of graduates.  
    Many of the kids who are no longer expressing an interest in majoring
    in CS would have fallen off."
    Yandziak, who began at the University of Virginia on Saturday, is not
    convinced that's the case. He graduated in the top 5 percent of his
    class, with a 3.9 grade-point average, and nailed the highest possible
    score on his advanced-placement exam in computer science.
    "All of my classes have been easy for me. Math and sciences were
    always fun, so I looked for professions in which I could use those
    things," Yandziak said. "I'm just not sure I want my life to be
    immersed in [technology]. I want to do something that will contribute
    to the practical world."
    Harris N. Miller, president of the Information Technology Association
    of America, said the last time there was a dearth of computing
    professionals, salaries skyrocketed and workers benefited from the
    labor shortage.
    "There was a tremendous imbalance in the late '90s; potentially you
    have the same sort of thing going on right now. People are saying, 'I
    don't need this kind of IT training right now,' " Miller said. "Our
    concern as an industry is that if they begin to again see major
    declines in enrollment, down the road four years, as the economy picks
    up, once again companies are going to find themselves in a shortage
    Economic potential weighs heavily in many student career choices, but
    other factors, including program difficulty, personal interests and
    social influences, also come into play, said Judy Hingle, director of
    professional development at the American College Counseling
    Association. The perception of computer science as an isolating,
    "nerdy" profession is one that many in the industry have tried to
    squelch. That stereotype went underground during the tech bubble but
    reemerged during the bust.
    "All the hipness is gone," Yandziak said. "Once we thought of the
    Internet as this thing with infinite capabilities. It was basically
    just a fad that came along."
    Lamont Thompson, a recent graduate of Calvin Coolidge Senior High
    School in the District, is headed to Morehouse College in Atlanta to
    study business marketing, with the intention of going into real estate
    "Technology comes natural to people my age; it's not fascinating
    anymore," Thompson said. "To be honest with you, when I think computer
    science, I think of some guy sitting behind a computer all day in a
    dark room. It's a necessity, but I wouldn't take it any further."
    "Communications without intelligence is noise;  Intelligence
    without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC
    C4I.org - Computer Security, & Intelligence - http://www.c4i.org
    ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org
    To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn'
    in the BODY of the mail.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Wed Aug 28 2002 - 04:57:01 PDT