I thought this was an interesting article. It discusses the decline in computer science enrollments. Also, be sure to check out the discussion that follows the article over at builder.com.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as in other schools across the country, computer science enrollments are dropping, raising questions about the country's future tech leadership.

This fall, there are just under 200 new undergraduate majors in MIT's electrical engineering and computer science department, down from about 240 last year and roughly 385 three years ago.

The Rutgers University computer science department has canceled some course sections and expects total enrollment in classes in the major this year to be thousands less than its peak of 6,500 several years ago. Saul Levy, chair of the undergraduate computer science program, said the ongoing decline stems from the way students perceive career prospects.

"They don't believe in the job market in computers anymore," Levy said.
At Carnegie Mellon University, 2,000 students applied to the school of computer science this year, down from 3,200 in 2001. At the University of California at Berkeley, the number of computer science majors pursuing a bachelor of arts degree was 226 this spring, down from 240 in the spring of 2003. Across the bay at Stanford University, the number of computer science undergraduate majors has declined for the past four years, from 171 in the 2000-2001 year to 118 this past year.

What Levy and others on the academic frontlines are observing raises concerns about America's tech work force and its leadership in the field. Peter Lee, associate dean at Carnegie Mellon's school of computer science, worries that fewer undergraduate computer science majors will translate into fewer computer science doctorates. That, in turn, risks slowing momentum in the field and losing the nation's lead in computer science research to countries such as India or China, he said.

In addition, Lee said, a smaller pool of researchers could mean the discipline generates less attention and, therefore, fewer new students. "It's a difficult thing to overcome," he said. "There's a vicious cycle."

The number of doctorates in science and engineering produced in the United States has dropped in recent years, and the figure could decline further thanks to fewer foreign doctoral degree candidates. Observers also have argued that research in the country is not as bold as it could be.

The National Science Board, an independent body that advises Congress and oversees the National Science Foundation, recently warned of a "troubling decline" in the number of U.S. citizens studying to become scientists and engineers, even as the number of jobs requiring science and engineering training grows.

But not everyone is sure the country needs more Ph.D.s, and some observers argue there are many technology professionals unable to find work in the wake of the dot-com demise and the rise of offshoring.

A recent study from the Rand think tank concluded that a labor shortage isn't looming in tech-related fields in the United States. "Despite recurring concerns about potential shortages of (scientific, technical, engineering and mathematics) personnel in the U.S. work force, particularly in engineering and information technology, we did not find evidence that such shortages have existed at least since 1990, nor that they are on the horizon," the report said.
Nationwide numbers for undergraduate enrollments in computer science departments this fall were not available. But a survey of Ph.D.-granting computer science departments in the United States by the Computer Research Association found that the number of new undergraduate majors in the field dropped 18 percent last year.

Carnegie Mellon's Lee said the recent decline in undergraduate enrollment is part of a larger trend of declining student interest in computer science over the past two decades--a tendency temporarily interrupted by the dot-com boom of the late 1990s. To him, a fundamental cause is that computer science hasn't emphasized its grand challenges.

Rather than tout the excitement of trying to magnify human intelligence through machines, the field has focused on more practical matters, which tend to be less attractive than big questions in disciplines like biology or chemistry, he said.

"It's hard for voice over Internet Protocol or e-commerce to compete with finding the age of the universe," he said.

By Ed Frauenheim
CNET News.com
Source: http://builder.com.com/5100-6375-5306904.html

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All 12 Replies

It would be interesting to see the enrollment figures worldwide. I'll bet that India is still on the rise in computer science.

I still remember the USA proclaiming in the early 80's that we need not support manufacturing because we were moving to service industries and information industries. I'd guess we were wrong. Service == low paying jobs easily satisfied with unskilled labor and information is elusive, as it requires no specific infrastructure or natural resources. There are brilliant men and women all over this planet, and the USA has no corner on brains.

The other statistic to investigate is how many folks are doing IT training, such as in the business department of the university. Maybe that's on the rise? Seems like companies have a large need for IT departments and a tiny need for CS Phd's.

Its interesting that the computer industry is growing ... n the computer science jobs are shrinking ....

In our country Pakistan ... the computer science enrollments have dried up too .... except a few highly reputed institutions ....

Yes you're right chainsaw ... India's still growing ...

u r right Chainsaw ,
the no of computer science enrollment is growing in India,not only in universities but also in private institutions.

HO mama!!! How bout China? What's happening there?

alright techie human spawn out there.. there are some interesting things to
note in regard to this. First off just because there arent as many 'papered'
students weilding two and 4 year degrees, this doesn't mean that the
'technical leadership' is going to be absent years from now. Folks are
disturbed far too often by far too little. now the redux in papered leadership
I'm certain will occur, more than likely not to the detriment of the industry.
i think the reason the decline has occured is the mentality of the worker
bee... a worker bee most first work. with work comes experience. for those
of us lucky eneough to put in 12 or 17 hour days you get pay raises earlier
in our careers than our papered bretheren. while their in school we climb the
ladder. if youre good and you build your rep early eneough well noone is going
to catch you.. ..its a big chance for most of us though... you are either a
dominant and unforgiving individual that looks at everyone and everything as
a stepping stone and gets paid on a miracle by miracle basis or youre a slug
that makes far too little by industry standards and you really should go home
because you cause more technical problems than youre worth. Companies
pay less often times for papered contractors and interns than they do for
those with 3 or 4 years experience.. in under 4 years in the field you can
make well over 100k with juicy fully paid benifits -only if youre good. for those
of us lucky eneough to be recognized as the heartless SOB that can extract
a pristine shiny miracle when its needed most.. heh heh well. they pay even
more. sorry you got your degree. im established and youre too late. enjoy
paying your colledge debts off. by the time you think im obsolete ill have new
skills. i can adapt faster and i dont fight fair. think twice before i get the
axe.. youll have to buy me out. lol if youre lucky youll get the 'new' passwords
before i go. Muhaha. The industry will always be starving for something that
can do more than manage. and will always operate at 80/20. For the rest of
you that 'care' you're jobs are in mexico and india, you have been outsourced
and were obsolete before you were even through your freshman year.

wow.. that was a doozie.. i gotta drink less coffee.. and get after the diazapam more often.. lol

Some dream Cain, huh! LOL

But remember the main point in that article, U need to innovate new things to dominate and that is possible if u have good number of researchers (phD holders) working. I dont see mere working experience(without academic studies) making one a great researcher. It helps to work efficiently and but wont take anyone much further.

I believe that you are both correct. However, the real problem stems from ability. Without ability, you can never accomplish anything. It is far easier for someone with the ability to get the "paper" than it is for someone with a "paper" to magically get the ability.

Besides, once the world destroys itself, it won't matter anyway.

Some dream Cain, huh! LOL

But remember the main point in that article, U need to innovate new things to dominate and that is possible if u have good number of researchers (phD holders) working. I dont see mere working experience(without academic studies) making one a great researcher. It helps to work efficiently and but wont take anyone much further.

Im arguing practical applicatation and know how. (there's still studies
involved, true) I've probably had thousands of research hours to go along
with practical application. Domination through brute force works best. Im
not saying you gotta split skulls but a little fear goes a long way and is
certainly a great motivator in a pinch. I've seen grown men cry and get
a lilt in thier voice when they know theyre wrong or incapable. I've also
witnessed the most certified of fellows break stuff and run off to hide in
bathrooms rather than admit thier incapable and require assistance. (in a
live support environment, at peak) a strong minded individual papered or
not will do far better in a stressful environment than one that isnt. so
character has alot to do with an individuals capabilities in the end.

as far as the loot goes.. ..it isnt a dream.

I came up with these figures to keep me goal oriented for wages years ago:

making good monies. 3xage=wages. minimum. no exeptions. up it in .5 margins
after you break it. e.g. 3.5.. 4.0.. 4.5.. always keep it just out of reach.
far too many folks sell themselves waaay short. Its thier own fault.

making good raises: 4.5% over inflation and cost of living (usually 3%)
so 7.5% yearly preferably more.

God complex.. No, not at all. What I have is far worse.

My own experience is that I got into the market while others were perhaps getting degrees, and after 25 years, I am going back to school to get some math and theoretical background that I find interesting.

When I didn't have a degree of any sort, I was very dismissive of computer science degrees. I imagine that cain's experience and mindset works well for him, but I suggest that those contemplating a degree will not really be four years behind the market when they graduate. A good rigorous program can provide skills and theoretical grounding that one may or may not get with years of experience. So, that 4 year head-start that I got was nice at the time, but after 25 years, it doesn't seem like such a big deal.

I am not asserting that a good theoretical grounding is a pre-requisite for success, but I suggest that it can be helpful, and it is hard to imagine how it would hurt. It is certainly something that I am interested in.

Hi everyone,

The thing why people outsource jobs is because most of the times they get the same quality and product for 1/10 th the price. Let me give you an example - sometime ago i bought two earphones. One made in the peoples republic of china and the other in the usa. They were exactly the same even in quality and technology ut the earphone made in china was 1/10 th the price. The people in the developed world were complacent thinking that people in india and china would take alot of time to catch up but they were wrong. They caught up in half the time.

There's only one way i see in countering this effect is to have indirect taxes or an all right out flat-tax rate for both coporate and personal and simple innovation.

The innovation part is particuarlly interesting because cost of living in the USA is high so the only thing people from the computer industry can do is create even cheaper equipment and software by using technology.

But let's go back to the earphone story. Sometime back i went back to the USA and i met this manufacturer that was selling earphones that was cheaper than the indians and chinese. This manufacturer told me that due to globalisation he had to compete globally and that only way for him to counter the eventually hollowing of his industry was to improve his technology(innovation) and sell in huge volumes.

Well that what i think

Richard West

It's a paradox on many levels. Some people get degrees and climb the ladder with almost no experience (which doesn't make sense, I know, but I've seen it happen); others works their hynies to the pelvis and get nowhere (with or without degrees); while others rule through intimidation (which is an option, but it also makes a person very unpopular). Somehow work gets done by experiences and inexperienced people. It's near miraculous.

Another paradox: by the very process of outsourcing and globalizing the market place, the US (which has been the world leader in "going global") threatens to undermine its own global dominance in many fields and on many levels. No one seems to see it - all eyes are on the bottom line. But maybe that's the goal of globalization - to make the entire globe a source of cheap labor? From a short-term business standpoint it makes sense (again, while focusing on the bottom line while ignoring the consequences of brute capitalism). The waning personal interest in the sciences in my country is very sad. But again, as long as the dollars roll in no one seems to care.

In India, more than 50 % of science students opting for either computer science or computer oriented training. This is due to vast job opportunities and I think this is the effect of offshoring. But jobs outsourced to India are mainly lower end programming or maintenance. US students should more concentrate on areas related to Project managment & high end computing research.


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