Computer Science: Not Just for Geeks Anymore

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More college are being drawn to computer science degrees because of media's glamorous portrayal of this traditionally geeky career path, today's New York Times article suggests. Movies like "The Social Network" and Apple's slick ad campaigns have created celebrities out of Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs, and with tech company net worth numbering in the billions, choosing computer science is becoming decidedly more intriguing these days.

This year, 11,000 students will be receiving computer science degrees in the U.S., according to the Computing Research Association, the article states.

Universities are pitching the major as not just a practical skills path, but one that could lead to discovery and creativity.

To hook students, Yale computer science professors are offering freshman seminars with no prerequisites, like one on computer graphics, in which students learn the technical underpinnings of a Pixar movie.

“Historically this department has been very theory-oriented, but in the last few years, we’re broadening the curriculum,” said Julie Dorsey, a professor.

She also started a new major, computing and the arts, which combines computer science with art, theater or music to teach students how to scan and restore paintings or design theater sets.

Professors stress that concentrating on the practical applications of computer science does not mean teaching vocational skills like programming languages, which change rapidly. Instead, it means guiding students to tackle real-world problems and learn skills and theorems along the way.

Sounds good to me. But what if kids were offered these kinds of classes beginning in K-12 setting? Perhaps they might not need the lure of fame and fortune to get into the game.