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Western Washington Univ. Considers Cutting Computer Science

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the what-the-quasi-market-will-bear dept.

Education 298

An anonymous reader writes "Due to Washington State budget concerns, Western Washington University is considering cutting their Computer Science Department. The news comes even as local stations report a hiring boom in the tech sector. The WWU administration seems completely out of touch with the current state of the department. This story has gotten a lot of attention and support from local industry and the University of Washington professors."

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It makes sense (3, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129254)

I am honestly not a troll here, but most of the big companies prefer Indian workers who can work for much cheaper and can't leave for better working conditions as easily. Many fortune 500 companies only have 6 or 7 employees that even deal with I.T. as they switch to salesforce.com and outsourcers and leave it very lean and barebones to satisfy Wall Street investors.

This is similiar to obtaining technical certifications for factory jobs. Americans simply do not do them anymore in a global economy.

If the university notices that students who graduate with these degrees do not find work compared to other majors then it makes sense to encourage these students to major in more profitable areas.

Re:It makes sense (0)

callmehank (2128210) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129324)

It's all true. And the IT business never cared about education all that much anyway. Lots of smart people go far on a HS degree or a little college. Despite copious advertising, there are very few actual hires going on.

Re:It makes sense (3, Informative)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129538)

And the IT business never cared about education all that much anyway. Lots of smart people go far on a HS degree or a little college

In my experience, at big companies there is a glass ceiling separating those with degrees from those without.

What the degree is in is irrelevant; just having a 4-year degree distinguishes the ordinary peons from the casteless peons.

Re:It makes sense (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129746)

I work for a big technology conglomerate and I agree with your glass ceiling assertion and that what the degree is in is irrelevant. In fact, the only thing that does matter is what college the person graduated from.

Now, I'm not one to slam people because of their lack of credentials. Liberal arts grads and uneducated basement dwellers alike can both make good programmers. I'm good at what I do because I was busy collecting experience and wisdom in the real world rather than studying 8 hours a day learning about triple integrals i'd never, ever use. I'm happy to say that 90% of my company's employees are American citizens, but there are a few disturbing trends I've noticed throughout the years.
  1. Corporations not hiring from within - they'll post a job description that many people within the company are qualified for, then hire some outsider because he's a friend or relative of some higher-up. An example at my company was a Field Service Engineer posting that required experience with . Only people within the company had experience with that device, and had applied for the position, but an outsider friend-of-a-higher-up was hired instead. This has a profound effect on readiness and morale. In another, similar instance, we lost a valuable experienced employee and installed somebody who quit in 3 days because she didn't have a window office.
  2. Unqualified hires being put in positions they shouldn't be, because they graduated from $FAVORED_UNIVERSITY - Pretty much says it all. Unproven, inexperienced idiots being placed in important positions just because they graduated from the same place a lot of the head honchos did. Damn near singlehandedly destroyed the productivity and morale of my department. Also prevented more respected, qualified, internal candidates from filling the position and saving us a lot of hassle.
  3. Top-heaviness - It may seem counterintuitive, but more and more managers (read: people with degrees) are being installed, with job titles the only purpose of which is to justify hiring another manager, with less technician-level positions capable of doing the same job for less pay. This increases both management and technician churn while putting undue stress on the bread and butter that actually gets the job done.

Your mileage may vary.

Re:It makes sense (1)

dingfelder (819778) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129662)

What does IT have to do with it? The Article is about "software developers" not IT workers

Re:It makes sense (5, Insightful)

errandum (2014454) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129328)

There is a misconception here.

Computer scientists aren't the code-monkeys. They are either the overseers of code monkeys or the guys doing research on various platforms.

Everyone can be a code monkey, but if you want your plane to land, you need experts.

Re:It makes sense (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129334)

*PS: That doesn't mean many won't end up as code monkeys, but they are overqualified to do so

Re:It makes sense (1)

callmehank (2128210) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129446)

When you get a B.S. in C.S., you are a classically-trained compsci generalist. You're not a specialist, a scientist, or an expert in anything. (At the Master's level, a specialist. PhD, expert.) In WA, you'd be lucky to get a job as a code monkey with a B.S. from any accredited state university. Too much competition from abroad, and too little hiring at home. You'll end up as a barista.

Re:It makes sense (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 3 years ago | (#36130120)

You're quite frankly out of your mind. There's a hell of a lot of programming jobs open in WA right now. I average a cold call every 2-3 days from recruiters- and I haven't updated my resume in over a year. If you're anything above the awful level it's pretty easy to get a job here right now, programming is in a boom cycle.

BSCS == Code Monkey: Get over it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129656)

Computer scientists aren't the code-monkeys.

With just an undergraduate degree you are.

You want to do computer sciency stuff? Get a graduate degree in Math or CompSci.

Re:It makes sense (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129876)

Everyone can be a code monkey, but if you want your plane to land, you need experts.

This is obviously not true. They all land.

That said, the experts are, in general, neither code monkeys nor CS graduates. It's the autodidacts, who more than anything has a strong interest in the field, combined with being smart. Sometimes they have too little time and money, and do code money jobs to pay the rent; sometimes they have too much time and money, and graduate from a school where they're bored out of their minds. With any kind of grades, depending on how how bored they were. More often, they're neither.
And universal is that no human resources person is ever able to spot one, and if your company gets an expert by sheer luck, just hope that the managers recognize that one person is doing 80% of the 20% of work that's important. More likely, they get dinged for not taking on the 80% of unimportant jobs that the code monkeys and grads can do, or for being uncooperative and telling the managers when they have a Really Bad Idea.

But yeah, if the plane lands in one piece, there's likely an expert who made sure that it did. And a clueless manager who pats himself on the shoulder for hiring all the code monkeys and grad students to make it happen, not realizing that all they did was point the plane downwards.

umm (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129938)

All this depends upon what level people you're talking about, but ..

An undergrad degree isn't "overqualified" for any vaguely related job. It might be that all MIT C.S. grads who want leadership roles in tech companies get them, but that's not true for the other high level engineering schools, like CalTech, Berkley, and Georgia Tech.

There is even an "abstract thinking gradient" for above average but not necessarily stellar people where you want people trained for some higher level of abstraction than their job actually requires, i.e. mathematicians, physicists, and electrical engineers routinely make solid developers, but computer science majors aren't easily convertible into those disciplines.

There was even a joke at Georgia Tech that CSs ended up in IT while the CompEs and EEs ended up as developers.

Re:It makes sense (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129340)

This is happening at my university, which is supposed to be known for its CS program. We have a paid co-op requirement for graduation, but its becoming so difficult to find one, and there's such intense competition among students for the few that do exist, that a sizable portion of the student population have to take leave of absences while they wait for an internship to become available to them. Those who do graduate face stiff competition in the area and several years of experience required for even entry level jobs. Even if you can manage to get it, the degree just doesn't equate to a job unless you've been lucky enough to have been working in your field during your whole time at college.

Consequently, we end up working dead-end jobs and wait for everything to get better. Hang out around the overnight shift at the McDonalds I work at, and you'll find most of the people in the back talking about what happened at Google I/O and what they've been doing when their arduinos.

Re:It makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129500)

At my uni there is a s/w engineering course that has a similar requirement of 40 weeks work experience. A few guys that I know, found it difficult finding a company to provide them with the required work-experience needed to get the credits to graduate, so they did the next best thing, setup a few fake companies, websites and ABNs filled out the work diaries themselves in the guise of the owner - created a couple of skype online numbers, got their GFs to record a few serious sounding business answering messages, and took extra credit courses in other depts (math and elec eng.) and ended up graduating with honors (due to the excess in credits they had). its all about working smart not working hard.

Re:It makes sense (2)

easyTree (1042254) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129628)

...its all about working smart not working hard.

It appears to be about lying more than working. Did they get a politics degree thrown-in for free after demonstrating such creativity?

Re:It makes sense (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129702)

... and then their prestigious degree becomes the laughingstock of the industry when word gets out that they can't even code a Hello World without googling for design petterns.

Re:It makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129816)

Consequently, we end up working dead-end jobs and wait for everything to get better. Hang out around the overnight shift at the McDonalds I work at, and you'll find most of the people in the back talking about what happened at Google I/O and what they've been doing when their arduinos.

Damn, I would say that sounds worse than my area but I and my CS degree couldn't get a McDonald's job during the hiring day. I do know of at least two people in my graduating class who found programming or IT work, however, and I did have an interview last week so it's not completely dead here in the SF bay area.

Re:It makes sense (4, Informative)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129344)

If the university notices that students who graduate with these degrees do not find work compared to other majors then it makes sense to encourage these students to major in more profitable areas.

I know, I know, you didn't RTFA, but that's the exact opposite of what's been noticed.

Re:It makes sense (5, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129346)

This is similiar to obtaining technical certifications for factory jobs. Americans simply do not do them anymore in a global economy.

The very idea of this comparison makes me sad about the state of modern software.

Re:It makes sense (2)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129366)

Your points seem more or less valid, but somewhat irrelevant to the situation: CS is not IT, and university is not vocational training. Even putting that aside, it strikes me as an odd choice of department to cut - I can't imagine running a CS department costs much, in comparison to engineering or physical sciences.

Re:It makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129436)

You don't know what you are talking about. One of the big problems of out-sourcing to India is that Indian workers in the computer field are very mobile - the Indian companies have terrible trouble with worker retention, because workers quit and get another job as soon as they can claim a little more experience. The average time in a job is less than a year.

Re:It makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129486)

Small colleges with borderline CS programs should cut them back at least, although maybe not completely. And there are lots of these - places that graduate (often with very good GPAs) people who are more or less incompetent and a bit of pruning would not hurt. It is really not a problem that many state schools (like Western Washington) can cope with - they need to keep students in classes to justify getting money from the state, so they need to make sure they get good grades - otherwise the program will lose the students to programs that don't actually require much in the way of effort to get equivalent grades.

It doesn't help, of course, that lots of tech companies are more interested in hiring people from out of the country where they can pay them less and work them more - and especially so when those people are willing to work harder for crap wages.

Re:It makes sense (3, Insightful)

deathguppie (768263) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129520)

You don't live near Microsoft (obviously) where they are generally known as the "Indian mafia" because of they way they only like to hire other Indians and generally make a hell of a lot more money than you espouse. The average MS software eng. starts at around $80k. Most of them I've known make around $120K.

Yes you are right about there being a lot of Indians, but you are way off base on working conditions and wages.

Re:It makes sense (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129540)

I'm attending Western Washington University as a CS major.

81% of WWU CS graduates find jobs directly out of college.

Washington state currently needs to graduate 70% more CS majors in order to meet demand.

Washington is being squeezed for talent, and WWU's proposal is simply a reflection of the grim status of state funding for higher education. We're chopping off an arm so we can reach the low-hanging fruit.

Re:It makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129614)

Bull. There are tech companies out there who would gladly pay qualified Americans, or anybody else, if only they could find some who could solve problems and code their way out of a wet paper bag.

Re:It makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129768)

CS also costs more to the school, so lower profit margin than say, an English major.

Doesn't matter if the grad can get a job. Factor in the equipment/maint costs for CS labs, profs that probably command much higher pay than the English prof who is just glad to finally get a job outside of Starbucks, and it makes sense in our perverted system.

Even public universities are run by CEO types, from private industry, now. Education and students don't matter anymore, its about profit.

Re:It makes sense (4, Interesting)

II Xion II (1420223) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129950)

Sorry I don't buy that entirely. It's true that outsourcing IT has become more and more popular, but it's hardly to the point where "many Fortune 500 companies only have 6 or 7 employees that even deal with I.T." That's a pretty big hyperbole.

I work at a Fortune 100 company helping maintain production code and working on transitioning development applications all the way to the production environment. We have no less than a thousand employees (with an employee total of over 30,000 people) who work directly or indirectly in I.T. in no less than a dozen different departments. I'm sure that number includes our outsourced colleagues in India (and we do have many consultants as well offshore employees, especially Indians), but we have many, many locally-based workers here in our main locations in the United States. Those include many who work in traditional Helpdesk roles, network engineering, environment moves, development silos, production support silos, business-IT liaisons, database management, host systems management & batch, incident management & escalation, etc. etc. who all help to develop and maintain a portfolio of hundreds of disparate and important applications critical to our infrastructural and business needs.

Maybe I'm not as jaded about outsourcing as the next person because of this experience. Maybe it's because I see the critical role it serves in helping companies/consumers lower costs and Indians/others get better lives. Maybe my company is the exception (though I doubt it, all companies of this size have diverse I.T. needs that make I.T. staffs of hundreds probably needed). Regardless, I think that combining outsourcing strategies while holding onto valuable I.T. employees here in the United States and the Western world is nonetheless what needs to be done in order to facilitate the proper mix of cost-savings and quality service/employee morale.

Re:It makes sense (1)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129972)

Let me inject here, you have to go get it. Just because you have an education doesn't equate to a job. It puts you on the playing field is all. Granted, there have been times when the job market was barking at the door of universities. Those times are not now though. If you have that education, you might need more, and it's a tough thing to get sometimes.

Don't stop thinking though. Make your own opportunities. But know this, tech has classically been a cutthroat field. Look at the classic examples of Tesla and Edison, Tesla was light years beyond Edison in IMHO, but Edison beat him down with his money. Thank God Tesla bested him, hence we have the modern era that we have now, just think what our world would be like without A/C? I shutter to think, but there has always been a dickheaded Edison around and there are acres of them here today.

But color me a troll, but I think this outsourcing is criminal. I think they should line up against the wall and shoot anyone who uses outsourcing. I think it's downright treasonous to our country and our culture. I swear to God, allowing multinational corporations to operate the way they do, will be the downfall of nations, including ours. "Globalization" is a buzz word used to dupe idiot intellectuals into swallowing how multinational corporations get away with exploiting both sides of the pond.

Until we the people wake the fuck up, and burn them all to the ground, we will be taking it up the tailpipe by them, and their lackey governments.

Don't look to Americans growing any balls anytime soon and solving this problem. Instead, you must adapt to the situation, choose a hat if you will, but put on one either way. In this world, tech still rules. Use it to enhance your life or someone else's and try to make a living along the way. Or just use it to survive if you have to. You should never go hungry, one way or another. If a society has you starved out, literally, then you owe that society NOTHING. Do you understand? Rule is only at gunpoint then.

When will people understand what is the heart of our problems in America. It's all about corporate greed. Greed has ran wild here infecting everyone and everything. Our own greed lets this happen, for deep down we want it all too. And it's dangled over our heads, like the fox and the grapes, yet we haven't moved on yet. We still want the grapes. It's not enough to just make a living, some want it all. There is no good ending for this kind of situation.

Think of it as a Darwin effect, but for an entire culture. As we have been hampered with and handicapped by a self loathing called "political correctness". It's a psychological affliction, where not being able to cope with success, the person(s) try to level the playing field or lower their own esteem and station. A lot of this has been a "guilt trip" laid upon the psyche of most Americans by the minorities clamoring for a piece of the pie. This is all fair game, but it's been too effective and it has disrupted the will and moral on a deep level. Good hearted people can easily be damaged by such insinuations that their culture isn't deserving of what they have, hence they don't struggle when they get their "silverware" stolen while depressed.

We have to wake up and say fuck all the foreigners, they aren't paying my bills or feeding me and my children. And we need to say FUCK YOU, to big corporations and their crafty propaganda machines, which are mostly every fucking network on TV. They need to pay their fair share of taxes like the rest of us. The free ride is over for them, no more tax breaks, no more subsidies, which are just big welfare checks for them that they don't even need. We need to take all of their of shore accounts and tax the fuck out of them for trying to escape taxation.

We also need to lynch every fucking politician that allowed China to dominate us economically. We need to lynch those in that one super big corporation that I am afraid to even mention, you know, the one that is in every town, and everything in it is made in China, yet they still have the balls to stick a big yellow grinning smiley face on stuff.

Anyway, from the looks of the parent article, education isn't about education anymore I think. It's about training the lemmings to be a labor force.

Re:It makes sense (1)

umbramei (1817502) | more than 3 years ago | (#36130070)

If the university notices that students who graduate with these degrees do not find work compared to other majors then it makes sense to encourage these students to major in more profitable areas.

Actually, Computer Science at WWU has the highest field-related employment rate and average salary of all the degrees the university offers. The decision by higher-ups in the administration to even consider eliminating the department has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the program or the employability of its graduates.

Technology has no place in Modern America. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129266)

In Modern America, there just isn't any place for science, mathematics, engineering, and anything else that's remotely technical.

In Modern America, it's important to know about sports and Christianity. That is all that one needs to know.

In Modern America, why is anyone surprised when universities start cutting technical programs? That's just not what American culture is about today.

Re:Technology has no place in Modern America. (5, Informative)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129478)

[From TFA comments]

From someone who was present at a meeting discussing this:

"This decision, apparently still potential, is a permanent statement of the University about the future of Computer Science. The impression conveyed in the meeting with the Provost and Dean was that we had reached the End of History. Now that everyone has a computer and a spreadsheet and a wordprocessor, the contribution of computing to the life of the mind has been exhausted. I do not write this sarcastically. This was the sense of the meeting."

Re:Technology has no place in Modern America. (2)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129964)

This is what happens when you offer 300 level classes in "Advanced data manipulation with Excel".

Re:Technology has no place in Modern America. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129496)

Jocks beat you up for your lunch money again?

Re:Technology has no place in Modern America. (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129602)

In Modern America, why is anyone surprised when universities start cutting technical programs? That's just not what American culture is about today.

The university near where I live is cutting programs, but notably *skipping* the technical programs.

Most of the science and engineering programs have good enrollment numbers, and they bring in a lot of grant money. Most of the programs being eliminated are the low-enrollment specializations of the fine and liberal arts.

Re:Technology has no place in Modern America. (3, Informative)

FSWKU (551325) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129676)

In Modern America, there just isn't any place for science, mathematics, engineering, and anything else that's remotely technical.

In Modern America, it's important to know about sports and Christianity. That is all that one needs to know.

I find it interesting that so many people seem to think science and faith are mutually excluseive. In my church we have medical professionals (doctors, surgeons, a medical examiner, and pharmacists), network engineers, broadcast engineers, etc. All very technically minded people, and all very much connected to their faith. I won't say religious, because there IS a difference. "Religious" people killed Jesus. People who have faith try to live their lives as best they can and leave the world better than they were brought into it. Do they always succeed? Of course not. But the whole point is it's something to strive for so you better yourself and have a positive impact on those around you.

As for myself, I'm learning quite a lot about audio engineering just through my work in the church's media ministry. I've had the opportunity to dabble in both live sound and broadcast mixing during our services, discover various techniques for getting the best sound from a given space and group of musicians, and a TON of various functions found in modern audio equipment (the Yamaha PM5D is an easy thing to get into, but not so easy to completely master). On several occasions I've even gotten into a bit of applied psychoacoustics. Sure, you can adjust the gain and volume if someone isn't singing very loudly, but that introduces background noise. Sneak the volume down on their monitor, however, and they sing louder without even realizing it.

Bottom line is, faith and science/technology do NOT have to be mutually exclusive. I'm sure there will be those who disagree with that statement as well as what I'm about to say, but it holds true for me. When working on a difficult technical problem, sometimes I get frustrated and can't figure out what to do next. Does God intervene and show me what I should do next? No. But I do tend to gain enough clarity to realize why a particular approach wasn't working, along with the motivation to try a different approach. And when I read about some unexpected result or novel discovery in any given scientific field, I can't help but wonder what else has been created just waiting for us to discover it. Science and faith are NOT enemies. God gave us scientific minds so that we could learn as much as possible (and that statement will probably irritate some of the more hardcore "religious" types, hehe).

To put it another way, seeing something truly amazing in the world of science (from the depths of space to the incredible variety of life in the ocean) is, I believe, God's way of inspiring us to want to learn as much about what we've discovered as we possibly can. And if we've learned all we can with current technologies, to invent new ones to further the quest for understanding.

Well... (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129282)

we do need a source of cheap labor.

Re:Well... (1)

MaxBooger (1877454) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129642)

The world needs ditched diggers too, ehh Judge Smails?

It doesn't matter anyway (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129288)

We're running out of money in WA. Nobody wants to pay income tax. You get what you pay for.

Re:It doesn't matter anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129414)

I think you mean, nobody wants to watch Gregoire piss away our hard-earned cash on entitlement programs for people who aren't willing to do what we are.

Re:It doesn't matter anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129448)

Nobody wants to pay income tax.

That's not true. The less successful among us generally favor a steeply progressive income tax.

Re:It doesn't matter anyway (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129506)

That's why the state has sales tax.

Re:It doesn't matter anyway (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129920)

Out of curiosity, how would Americans react if a US state raised its sales tax to the same level as in Europe?

In Europe, a quarter of your purchasing power is lost to taxes.
In the US, a quarter of your purchasing power is lost to pay for lawyers.

Re:It doesn't matter anyway (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129960)

I'd do my shopping in Oregon.

Re:It doesn't matter anyway (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129666)

There is a surprising number of people who would like someone else to pay (more) income tax. They don't volunteer to do it themselves, of course.

Makes sense to me (4, Insightful)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129290)

There may be a hiring boom in "IT folks", but what does have to do with computer science? A hiring boom in plumbing doesn't mean we should have universities teach more hydrodynamics.

Let's face it: 97% of "computer science" graduates end up as code monkeys or cable stringers in jobs that a six-week trade certificate would be entirely sufficient to qualify for.

Rational Economic Behavior (4, Insightful)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129300)

WWU isn't in business to educate kids; they're in it to stay in business, and liberal arts majors vastly outnumber technical majors. In trying economic times, the money sinks are going to be the first to go.

As for the utterly irrational economic policies that have resulted in scores of directionless kids heading to college and picking the easier majors, distorting the market for technical degrees and leaving us with bottomless piles of college-educated baristas, well... I don't know where I'm going with any of this.

America: We're getting what we deserve.

Re:Rational Economic Behavior (1)

chihowa (366380) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129424)

I also wonder if CS graduates are less likely to give back to the school as alumni. This usually doesn't represent a huge source of income (especially for public schools), but it can help a department out in trying times (like now). Graduating students is nice, but graduating students that donate to the school is better.

Re:Rational Economic Behavior (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129902)

Give back? You mean besides the huge piles of money that students pay for the privilege of studying?

Re:Rational Economic Behavior (1)

deathguppie (768263) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129564)

One thing that no one has mentioned here is that WWU is located right in the center of the UW campus area in the U district of Seattle. There are a lot of Universities here, so it stands to reason that some of them are better known for CS than others. If I were going looking for a CS degree right now, WWU wouldn't even be a consideration anyway. :p

Re:Rational Economic Behavior (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129650)

Actually, WWU is located in beautiful Bellingham, Washington, close to the Canadian border. I know because I graduated from there with a B.A. in East Asian Studies. You might be thinking of Seattle University?

Re:Rational Economic Behavior (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36130046)

WWU is located in Bellingham, not in Seattle at all.

Re:Rational Economic Behavior (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36130122)

No, actually, WWU is two hours north of Seattle in Bellingham near the canuk border.

Re:Rational Economic Behavior (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129596)

As for the utterly irrational economic policies that have resulted in scores of directionless kids heading to college and picking the easier majors, distorting the market for technical degrees and leaving us with bottomless piles of college-educated baristas, well.

I hate to break it to you, but at my college a CS degree IS one of the easier degrees. Physics, math, biology, even history and music were much harder, more intense in depth studies. Literally anyone could get a CS degree. I don't know where I'm going with this either, but most IT professionals I know do not have CS degrees.

Re:Rational Economic Behavior (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129634)

It's just like the average Borders store. At one time they stocked many tech books, and then they shifted to entertainment. Now many stores are closing shop entirely because of online sales. Maybe that's the future of WWU as well.

Re:Rational Economic Behavior (2)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129914)

There are no easy majors; only easy departments.

In some places Economics is an easy degree. Not everywhere. I had a friend who taught one of the introductory level Economics courses for majors. He shocked his class by giving them one week to finish "Wealth of Nations" at the start of the course, and it didn't get easier from there. His position was that the world didn't need more half-assed econ grads. I had another friend who taught the anatomy class that washed out many jocks who wanted to become certified athletic trainers and sports therapists. She had no mercy, out of consideration for the people whose injuries might be treated by some student who managed to pass her class without learning any anatomy.

A CS degree really isn't all that hard, except for maybe two subjects that are really applied math: analysis of algorithms and computation theory. Find a CS department that will let you can scrape an easy C in those subjects and voila: easy degree.

This points out an angle that's worth considering in this story. How strong is the department? If the department is weak and it's not attracting students, and there isn't initiative to fix those things or money, then why not pull the plug? Sure, CS may be the most important subject area taught at the University, but all the more reason not to disservice students with an inferior program.

Not that I'm saying this department is weak; as far as I know it's a terrific department. But the decision to cut the department isn't purely a matter of whether the subject is important. It's a matter of whether the department is economically successful, or successful at serving a public need.

CS Degree? Are you insane? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129318)

You'd have to be out of your mind to consider paying to do a technical degree these days.

Law, medicine, business - but I unfortunately do not see much of a future for engineers in North America.

Sure there is work, but you will cap out well below any other professional degree. CS is just batshit crazy.

I'm writing my MCATs in the fall..

-- BSc. EE, 2000.

Re:CS Degree? Are you insane? (3, Insightful)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129376)

I look forward to the law/medicine gold rush.

Well, it'll be nice to see as many doctors as in Cuba, and paid similarly.

Lawyers/"business"? It's hard to put value on nonproductive work.

Re:CS Degree? Are you insane? (2)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129554)

I look forward to the law/medicine gold rush.

Well, it'll be nice to see as many doctors as in Cuba, and paid similarly.

Lawyers/"business"?

I don't really think there's a medicine gold rush. The time it takes to finally get to a real job (7-11+ years after college depending on specialty) puts a damper on that. Not to mention the number of medical schools there are in this country. They're difficult to establish.

It's hard to put value on nonproductive work.

Depends on the work. For example, solicit prices for plumbing work from different plumbers and you should get a good idea of what that work should cost.

Re:CS Degree? Are you insane? (2)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129664)

I don't really think there's a medicine gold rush. The time it takes to finally get to a real job (7-11+ years after college depending on specialty) puts a damper on that.

5 years of medical degree before salaried employment begins in the UK - sure, you do foundation training and then specialisation, but you're already earning and comfortable. Contrast with many other professional careers where you also only really begin your specialisation after you start employment but there's less in the way of job security.

It takes a doctor to tell everyone how insanely tough and long-winded his journey to qualification was. Yes, it's a more lengthy journey in the US, partly because you don't have A-levels in the UK (or used to be - they've got way easier) comparable to first year of US university and partly because it's typical to do a separate undergraduate degree rather than a medical programme straight out of high school. Again, though, this is typical of professional qualifications. And, in terms of academic skill, someone pursuing a PhD is expected to reach far higher in a similar number of years.

solicit prices for plumbing work from different plumbers

How is a plumber nonproductive? Or am I missing the sarcasm tags?

Re:CS Degree? Are you insane? (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129804)

solicit prices for plumbing work from different plumbers

How is a plumber nonproductive? Or am I missing the sarcasm tags?

The same way that a lawyer is nonproductive: they don't physically produce anything. Since the person I was replying to didn't define "nonproductive", I didn't either until now.

Re:CS Degree? Are you insane? (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129744)

Are you saying that plumbing is nonproductive? The GP might not be discussing the price of legal services, but their value.

Re:CS Degree? Are you insane? (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129818)

Are you saying that plumbing is nonproductive? The GP might not be discussing the price of legal services, but their value.

Then GP didn't define what "nonproductive work" means. Legal services can be valuable or not depending on the situation and the people involved. I'm sure they were very valuable to OJ Simpson.

Re:CS Degree? Are you insane? (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129638)

Misconceptions are so much fun.

  * Business: 40% of college majors are already in business, calling it over-saturated is an understatement. In other words expect to make a low to middling salary unless you finish top from a top school and have the right connections.
  * Law: Contrary to your flawed perceptions most lawyers make crap money. Unless you're damn brilliant, finish top of your class at a top school and work your ass off at a top firm. Otherwise enjoy filling paperwork in Bumfuck, Iowa for barely more than what you're paying back for your loans.

Re:CS Degree? Are you insane? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129856)

I am the OP..

Oh, the vitriol!

The reality is that the legal and medical professions restrict entry, control numbers, and have union style protections through their associations.

You can have a good living as a legal aid lawyer where I live. Compared to the stress of being a technical EE lead on a large project, it is an attractive option that I considered as well.

In my case I am starting the long approach towards medicine - I expect to do quite well on the MCAT, and am prepared to retrain over a 5-6 year period, with requisite volunteer work. The end result will be a stable job that helps people and offers a reasonable quality of life. I don't want to make $200k. I want to make $50k and have a lot of time and job security.

Loans? I've saved enough to cover school and expenses. By any metric, I've done quite well. I watched my peers in other professions advance much faster and continue to grow their salaries, with more opportunities and leisure time. That includes business! I'm getting off the technology rat race. It's not valued, is easily replaced, and those in the industry are too stupid to put in place real controls, like Civil Engineering has, to give their profession value and legal force of law.

Others might argue, but (electrical) engineering as a profession was a _bad_ decision for me.

If you want to sacrifice yourself to science, have at it. It's difficult to do even that that these days.

Better coverage in WWU student newspaper (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129386)

A longer story with more info can be found in the WWU student newspaper:
http://westernfrontonline.net/top-stories/13487-westerns-budget-balancing-act-rumors-of-elimination-shake-up-a-trio-of-academic-departments

They say nothing's been decided yet, but at a minimum Computer Science has been singled out as a candidate for elimination or at least "restructuring" (and not in a good way).

What bugs me though.. (1)

angiasaa (758006) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129388)

is that a lot of people seem to think a university chopping off a specific course means the end of the world. The fact of life is that people in general don't take a course because it's offered, but because that's the course they want to do. If WWU does not offer a course, they'll go elsewhere. It's obvious from my understanding of the situation, that there just are'nt enough takers for WWU's IT course to make it profitable. If that's the case, then WWU is left with only two choices. Either stop offering the course, or make it more desirable for students. Either way, the decision seems to have been made, whatever the details behind the said decision may be. What's the big deal either way? If someone really wants an IT certificate from WWU and only WWU, I see their problem. But if they just want a certificate in IT, they'll go elsewhere. Right?

Translation... (2)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129390)

The tech industry should be giving us money if they want the program to continue. Lots of money. We purposely started talking about cutting the computer science program because we know the demand for that major is so high, we figure that the easiest extortion opportunities lie there.

We all know that when publicly funded institutions face budget cuts that the first thing they cut is the thing everybody actually wants them to do because then they pony up like good little tax payers and we can continue spending money on all kinds of ridiculous things that don't actually matter to anybody in particular at all. Why are you all so surprised about this?

Seriously, that's exactly what I get out of reading this. "Forging ties with local industry." sounds an awful like to me like "Shake them down for some money.".

Re:Translation... (1)

thoughtsatthemoment (1687848) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129462)

we can continue spending money on all kinds of ridiculous things that don't actually matter to anybody in particular at all

It has to benefit someone in some way unless the people who spend the money are total idiots. Then that looks like embezzlement to me.

Re:Translation... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36130148)

The purpose of most education is job training, so if companies want domestic workers they can shit a few bucks to train them.

Many community colleges do training for specific industries, which can "locally outsource" any training they wish.

Fewer Students Fewer Programs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129406)

The number of students entering Computer Science majors has fallen by half over 10 years. Some programs will have to be cut for underenrollment... that's just common sense. Maybe not every little backwater university, like Western Washington, should have a CS program???

I am attending Western Washington University as a (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129430)

I am attending Western Washington University as a Computer Science major. Thankfully, this report may be jumping the gun, as there hasn't yet been any confirmation to the future of the department, but it is certainly on the chopping block.

The students and the faculty have no idea what actually is going on. In an attempt to ensure that the students in the department can graduate, professors in our classes have told any premajors (including myself) to declare immediately. We've pushed 70 new applicants this week. The department involved in making the budget cut decisions have not been forthcoming in their intentions, and there is fear that they may be attempting to push this beneath the door, so to speak, so any publicity, especially here on slashdot, is very welcome.

We're speculating that this may be a public relations tactic to try and get some external funding, which the university desperately needs. Unfortunately, our fate is still undecided at this point, and I'm awaiting news just as earnestly as my professors are.

Re:I am attending Western Washington University as (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129484)

Washington needs to employ up to 70% more computer science graduates to meet demand. At least in the short term, IT jobs are growing in Washington.

Re:I am attending Western Washington University as (1)

dingfelder (819778) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129658)

Why are you discussing IT? The Article is about "software developers" not IT workers

Re:I am attending Western Washington University as (1)

thoughtsatthemoment (1687848) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129558)

We're speculating that this may be a public relations tactic to try and get some external funding

This could be a semi bluff. If graudates from this university would often end up as QA (testers), then it would be very difficult to compete with cheap Indian workers (In the company I work even Indians are being replaced by indians in india). I think in the long term in the US only high quality engineers will survivie and correspondingly only high quality departments will survive.

Re:I am attending Western Washington University as (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129962)

I attended WWU and dropped out of the CS department because I was learning more on my own (which is probably true for most insomniacs at most universities). I now work at the most obvious local company, and indeed have heard that we'd like to hire WWU CS grads as QA/test devs to start with before having them transition over to dev.

I don't think 'QA' is really a horrible entry point to the field. There are a number of high-ish profile WWU grads at MSFT. They weren't directly hired as God Emperor.

When your state runs up horrible deficits, higher ed has to make some crazy and horrible choices. Exile Tim Eyman and paid signature gathering and Washington would be a better place.

Re:I am attending Western Washington University as (1)

thoughtsatthemoment (1687848) | more than 3 years ago | (#36130172)

QA should genenally more tech savvy than their users and in case of microsoft, especially their developer tools division (or sth like that), the users are programmers. So QA at such places sometimes have to be even more than programmers. But in most cases, QA do not look at source code and that makes them much more vulnerable to competition from cheap labor. Do you really need a computer science degree to just use software? Yes there are good testers who can reproduce a random bug even when the programmers are clueless, but QA mostly just run a lot of routine work like setting up machines and verifying the same thing on different platforms. I don't mean to bash QA here. Just poting out that the qualifications generally are much lower AND different.

Re:I am attending Western Washington University as (5, Interesting)

Sangui5 (12317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129934)

Speaking as somebody who has seen what sort of things can happen in campus politics, I see three reasons for what is going on.

1) The department of CS has become... clogged... with under-performing faculty..
2) The administration is playing a brinkmanship game with those above them.
3) The administration is incompetent.

Now, I've listed these in order of most likely to least likely. The administration could be incompetent, but do you really believe anyone could be that stupid? There may be a lot of liberal arts majors, but those are the money sinks; the smart money on alumni donations is still engineers, doctors, and lawyers. Rather than the administration being stupid, there are other explanations, which are far more likely.

They could be playing a political brinkmanship game. I wouldn't be surprised if the plan to close the CS department is just a threat, and nothing more. It would make sense; in a time of mild to moderate budget crisis, it is not uncommon to threaten to cut something popular in order to garner more money for other things. If the threat was to cancel the history department, would there be a big stink? Absolutely not (unless there are a bunch of history buffs in the state senate... who knows? Maybe sports psychology, or sociology, or some other useles.... I meant, less practical... major).

It is very unfortunate, but I think that the most likely reason for this is that the faculty in the CS department are not up to snuff. It could well be that they are, collectively, getting older and tireder, and just not putting the effort into teaching that they could be. It could also be that they just weren't that good to begin with. But, what I think may be the case, is that the CS department is populated by... faculty from an older time. Faculty who, when they were hired, it was a rock solid CV if they had a single top-tier publication. When they got tenure, a solid case had 1 top tier publication plus a smattering of lesser accomplishments. WWU's faculty could think a wonderful accomplishment is a single pub a year.

That is to say, WWU could possibly be staffed by professors who would be laughed out of the room if they tried to defend a thesis today. It isn't that they weren't worthy when they were hired; it is just that standards have gone way up. I personally have a better publication record now than Randy Pausch (famous for "The Last Lecture") had when he was made a full prof; I don't even rate an interview at top schools today. WWU may simply be looking at what they have, and then looking at what the supply of desperate fresh grads are, and deciding that the logical thing to do is to wipe the slate clean, keep maybe one or two of the old faculty, but to otherwise start fresh with, talented, sharp, bright-eyed, and coincidentally desperately eager, newly minted faculty. I've seen it happen at much more prestigious institutions.

The computer science shutdown is just a symptom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129452)

The WWU administration seems completely out of touch with the current state of...

oh but that i could tell the secrets of my prison-house, i could a tale unfold... in other words it isn't just with the computer science department that they're out of touch. tight budgets have bizarre effects given university management that is only thinking in terms of its year end balance sheet.

Terminal Solutions .edu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129518)

Publicly consented auto-euthanasia. How quaint.

Just a regrettably little extrapolation is necessary to infer that they`re just working their way up to public gas chambers. At the "citizens" expense, of course.

Meh (1)

VonSkippy (892467) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129528)

Let me know if MIT or some other big Tech Uni cuts CS, then I'll care.

Hearing about some cost cutting measure in a state college offshoot - not so much. //go bears//

some Computer Science class are a poor fit for it (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129546)

some Computer Science class are a poor fit for it jobs.

http://www.networkworld.com/news/2011/022511-it-graduates.html [networkworld.com]

Re:some Computer Science class are a poor fit for (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129788)

And some math courses are a poor fit for history jobs. Computer science isn't IT.

Content vs. Poducts (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129568)

University level innovative work has little to do with a perceived threat from cheap wage places like India or Brazil.

A far greater problem is the thread from a lack of entrepreneurs and risk-capital for novel high-tech projects.

And Universities, like politicians, see more reward in training IP-lawyers, because the accountants have decided 'content' is the US industry of the future.

Thanks for the encouragement. (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129570)

I know this article cites only one school's example, but it's the posts from this thread and many others I read on /. that make me wonder if I'm wasting my time and money on getting my degree in Software Engineering. I started school 2 years ago, I'm almost 40, and I have about 6 years to go (I attend part-time as I must also work for a living). I'm learning to write code and I love it. But from what I read here (paired with all the ads demanding 3+ years experience in what seems to be 3-4 different languages for every company) it's a wonder if I'll ever get to use the new knowledge I'm gaining.

On the other hand.... (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129592)

My little brother just started at Microsoft fresh out of college (albeit with experience) and the CIO at my company says the doomsayers online (like here) are full of it. So who knows??

Re:On the other hand.... (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 3 years ago | (#36130062)

Just remember that CS and CE are not really the same thing, and neither of them are the same as being a code jockey. CS students are trained to become architects; most of the comments on here are about QA and low-grade programming positions. I'm not quite sure where CE lines up in all that, but I'd guess somewhere in the middle.

Re:Thanks for the encouragement. (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129782)

Dude.... You should get into a meduczl field... Become an RN, RPh, PA, or MD(if you want to do that amount of work). 18% of GDP. You can then transition into H.I.T. as a technically literate clinitian which is like gold.

Re:Thanks for the encouragement. (1)

dbc (135354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129840)

Learn to think, and all will be well. If your highest ambition is to be a code monkey, then expect off-shore programmers to eat your lunch. OTOH, there is always demand for a genuine problem solver. Bring solutions (in whatever your domain of expertise) and people will seek you out and you will be in charge of the code monkeys. And even better than being the person with the answers: be the person that asks the right questions. The corner office goes to the person with the best bullshit detector, errm... excuse me... the person with the right questions.

Bull$@!+ (3, Insightful)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129640)

the media has been doing this for years: declaring a hiring boom anywhere our rulers want to depress wages. They did it with engineers, they did it with tech, and they're starting in on it with nursing. As has already been pointed out most of the jobs are meant for H1-B visas, and the only reason they're listed is to meet the legal requirement. There's tons of ways around hiring Americans.

Said it before, will not doubt say it again: stop voting Republican, put a majority of Dems in office. At least the Dems have to pretend to be pro-labor. It puts a limit on the crap they can do. The Republican's core philosophy boils down to: screw labor, the free market

Re:Bull$@!+ (2)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129814)

There was a big shortage in nursing about a decade ago. My wife was able to walk into an interview about 15 minutes after filling out the application and hired on the spot with a retention bonus after 1 year.

Now? If you don't have experience you are fighting with about 100 applicants per open position. Student nurses can't even find jobs as exturns.

Riordan's e-mail (2)

dbc (135354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129728)

Provost@wwu.edu
address of the Provost's office. Of course, your thoughtful comments will be handled by one of her staff. Or... maybe more than one :)

I don't mind (2)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129832)

Western is only 90 miles away from the University of Washington, which has one of the best public Computer Science departments in the country, so any Washington resident smart enough to deserve a subsidized education in CS has a *way* better option just down the road.

I see so many comments here on slashdot to the effect that recent computer science grads are perhaps 10% excellent, 35% trainable, and 55% total morons, yet when someone suggests closing a computer science department you all rush to criticize. I think it's the right thing to close this department, especially if it means making the department at UW a little bigger. Less duplication of resources, fewer incompetents admitted to CS programs in Washington state, and those who go to UW rather than Western will get a much better education.

There's no need for every basic discipline to have a degree granting department at every school, either. What's wrong with downgrading the department at Western to a non-degree granting teaching department, offering a minor and specializing in synergy classes for other sciences?

Re:I don't mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129874)

I see so many comments here on slashdot to the effect that recent computer science grads are perhaps 10% excellent, 35% trainable, and 55% total morons, yet when someone suggests closing a computer science department you all rush to criticize.

Well, even if we take them completely at their word on those stats and assume the same people are the ones defending CS now, its not entirely inconsistent. Those 10-35% are still a good thing, and when schools eliminate their CS program they'll be producing 0% (and, if you're a pessimist, they'll still be producing the total morons).

Re:I don't mind (1)

natet (158905) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129952)

Western is only 90 miles away from the University of Washington, which has one of the best public Computer Science departments in the country, so any Washington resident smart enough to deserve a subsidized education in CS has a *way* better option just down the road.

That sounds great, until you realize that UW is cutting the numbers of in state students that they're admitting because out of state students bring in more money in tuition. WWU cutting it's CS department reduces the options that in-state students have for getting a technical education.

What sort of university is this? (2)

Capt.Albatross (1301561) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129842)

The university's statement [wwu.edu] (referenced by the article) is remarkably poorly written, especially given its source. Consider, for example, the first paragraph under the heading 'Academic Programs', which begins thus: "Rebasing does not mean, exclusively, looking at the programs we will have. And, those we will no longer have."

State spending up 80%: Inflation and pop up 40% (1, Insightful)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 3 years ago | (#36129866)

Actually, state spending in Washington has gone up 80% in ten years at the same time population growth and inflation have been less than 40%. We don't have a revenue problem in Washington, we have a spending problem. If the State were spending at the same rate it did ten years ago, allowing for inflation and population gowth, there would be no budget issues. But instead, the legislature and governor went on a spending spree and added state workers by the thousands, added spending programs "for the children" and generally created an unsustainable spending environment. They do the heart-strings schtick and claim they don't want to cut "aid to the increasing number of poor people" when, in fact, aid to poor people is so good here that they move here to take advantage of it.

Now, rather than cut the spending programs, the state is going after things like this and claiming that it is because people "don't want to pay an income tax." Thanks for drinking the Kool Aid there above. It's the Party Line that counts. In fact, Washington ranks 13th in the nation for tax burden per capita, mostly because of a very high sales tax rate and reliance upon. So people stop spending and buying cars and the state revenue goes down. Duh!

That's a good start. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129878)

If anything, we need any existing CS programs to teach TRUE computer science, and not teach programming. Programming can be handled by the community colleges.

Now Western Washington should go further and eliminate the athletics program as well. I seriously doubt there is any need for more football "research", or need to study slam dunks. Anyone who feels a need to play game, that's what intramurals are for. If you weren't good enough to get into a University, your local community college will take you. We need more plumbers and mechanics anyway, and truthfully you probably weren't good enough for the 100 or so new openings in the NFL.

Just typical politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36129982)

Sounds to me like the typical institional or departmental response to budget cuts. Rather than look at the budget and make sensible cuts, or restructure overall operations for efficiency, pick something that will create a media firestorm in the hopes that it will cause the powers that be to cancel the budget cuts. I see this all the time in municiple budget discussions. When deparments are asked about the impact of a 5% budget cut, it's never about reducing the usage of expensive consultants, sending less people to the big conference in Cabo, or reforming gold plated pension plans, it's always, "well sure we could cut 5% of the budget, but then we'd have to stop picking up garbage, close the libraries and kick all the war widows out onto the street.

I'll bet the reasoning behind cancelling the CS program has nothing to do with the utilty of the program, or demand for graduates or corporate greed, and everything to do with using the predictale public reaction to such a stupid decision in order to over turn the budget cuts

My alma mater did this (2)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#36130176)

I graduated in '03 and they just cut the CS program this year. I'm not privy to the reasons for it, but I suspect:

1) the dept was too small to be really good, and it's at a smaller university anyway
2) most of the CS grads didn't go on to be computer scientists, but rather programmers and IT monkeys.

The program's been split into the College of Business for an Information Systems-type degree, and the College of Technology for an Electronics Engineering-type degree.

I went to WWU, and have a CS degree... (3, Informative)

Toasterboy (228574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36130180)

Western's CS program is one of the ones that grew out of a math base. It's pretty hardcore on the theory, but you're sort of on your own for learning the stuff that business wants. Which is fine.... even if the program focused on exacty whatever buzzwords corps want these days, corps don't generally hire CS grads straight out of school. The stuff you learn in the 400 level classes is great for senior developers to know....but you're not going to start out as one. It wasn't till my 3rd job out of college (which I'm still at) that I actually got to touch source code at work. For long term personal growth, I'm really glad that I had my ass kicked with the theory; I find that the rigorous methods that were drilled into me really help me tackle the hard problems I work on every day. (debugging nasty kernel mode race conditions in code written by others for example). Besides, if you can handle the proofs and algorithm stuff, you can handle anything else, though you'll sure as hell not enjoy writing silly business apps over and over.

You know what the job finding foks at Western tell you about finding a job once you graduate? They tell you to forget about finding anything remotely in your field. The real difficulty in getting hired after college has less to do with your skills and what you're taught and more to do with risk aversion for employers...they don't like hiring green kids who don't understand corporate politics yet. You have to persevere in order to get to do what you love.

Computer science is supposed to be hardcore...unfortunately there is a huge variation in what different universities consider to be computer science, let alone what the business world thinks. For some, any old programming is CS, for others, they focus on software engineering methods, and some hardly touch on theory and math at all; others still consider web page design to be CS. CS is about understanding the extreme limits of what computers and software are capable of and pushing the limits of what's possible....it's not supposed to train you for "IT" (which most businesses consider to be the guys that fix their computers).

You really should not be doing a computer science degree unless you are going to be some kind of developer and you get off on things that require in depth knowledge of how to design and compare the performance of different algorithms, want to fix bugs no one else can, want to write really hardcore software (such as doing speech recognition, computer vision, or 3d rendering) at the bleeding edge, and need to be able to prove why your design is better than someone else's design. The industry is already full of very experienced, very compentent people who don't have CS degrees. In fact, many of them started before such degree programs even existed. They know how to code, but they generally don't have any exposure to the more advanced theory stuff and are therefore not inspired by it, nor do they generally value it. The degree is MUCH more a long term investment for your career than a credential to get your foot in the door, as you'll eventually get to apply the theory and start doing things that wow. After you've taken your lumps that is.

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