The Modernization Of Computer Science Education
Most people, especially in Silicon Valley, are aware that there aren’t enough engineers graduating from college today. By 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor projects that there will be 1.4 million computer science (CS) jobs available, but only enough graduates to fill 30 percent of these jobs. What’s perhaps even more troubling, but frequently overlooked, is that the engineers who are graduating today often don’t have the level of real-world skills in CS they need to meet the requirements of open positions. Why? Put simply, being a CS student is very different from being a real-life software engineer.
The courses available to most CS students teach important software development practices, but because they’re designed around the typical classroom model of education, there are many aspects of the profession that they can’t convey to students. Unlike in the classroom, real-world software development projects are larger (in timeline and size) than the ones students encounter in class. One must also gain an understanding of some pretty substantial pre-existing code bases in order to be productive. What’s more, in the real-world, project management and interpersonal relationships can have as much impact on software design as technical issues, and systems are ultimately evaluated by user satisfaction rather than technical merit.
The best solution to this problem is to combine the valuable foundation of university CS education with the practicality of real-world work by connecting students to the open-source community.
Working on open source puts CS students at the heart of the software industry. Open source enables everyone involved to work in development and create new infrastructure and designs without being forced to start from scratch. And unlike in school, where a project might just be theoretical, or relevant only in context of the class, an open-source contribution makes immediate impact on the ecosystem.
Making it easier for students to be active contributors to the open-source community is key to preparing them for professional work and helping them to realize sooner the impact they can have on the world.Continue Reading