Academics Call for Computer Sciences for Younger Students

Experts have warned that if we want to ensure that America remains one of the greatest world forces in computer sciences, we are going to have to introduce students into the subject of computer science at an earlier age.

Jeannette Wing, head of the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University, said:

"The demand by industry is far greater than supply. It's not just Google and Microsoft. It's all sectors: health care, transportation, manufacturing. Every sector is demanding more and more expertise in computing."

Experts say schools should introduce computer science to students as early as kindergarten, as private companies say they are developing programs to mentor students and sustain interest in computer science and engineering, writes Bobby Kerlik at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Jim Ice, director of talent management at Cranberry-based Westinghouse Electric Co., said:

"The economy grows on innovation — new products, new designs. Engineers are usually at the core of that.

"There's never enough engineers. A business like ours relies on engineering talent."

This comes as the number of STEM-related college applications are on the rise. Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science, for example, drew 2,390 applicants this year. And what's more, only 590 came from the United States. The rest comprises of 602 from India, and 678 from China; the rest came from other countries.

Wing said:

"Most (U.S.) students are not exposed to computer science in the same way they are to biology and physics.

"We have to incorporate computer science at the K-12 level. It's not easy to do, but this is what is needed."

Schools should run four-week residential programs aimed at introducing hi-tech professions and programs to students, says Martin Weiss, associate dean of the School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.

He said:

"We do it with the hope they go on to graduate school."

Jordan Newman, a spokesman for Google, said about 200 people work for Google at the company's growing East Liberty offices. Many of these work in engineering.

Newman said people typically become interested in engineering and computer science careers at an early age, writes Kerlik.

Newman said:

"We regularly invite student groups into the office.

"We want to show them the challenges that computer science can solve."

This comes as President Obama has launched the new Engage to Excel report. The report was released by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and it recommends that key actions to prepare and motivate students for good-paying jobs in STEM fields – jobs that are projected to grow significantly in the future.

The report outlines the needs to improve teaching methods that emphasize evidence-based learning, increase undergraduate research opportunities and draw more non-traditional students to STEM education and careers.

03 6, 2012
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