US faces critical lack of (mad) computer scientists
Outreach project to teen tech dorks planned
Famed Pentagon wildcard boffinry outfit DARPA issued a stark message today. According to the military crazytech bureau, America faces a crippling shortage of mad scientists - in particular, of mad computer scientists - in the near future, and only drastic action in the US educational system can rectify this.
According to a DARPA solicitation issued yesterday:
The downward trend in college graduates with STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] majors is particularly pronounced in Computer Science (CS). While computers and internet connectivity become daily fixtures in the lives of Americans, we are steadily losing the engineering talent to project [?] these systems.
Far from gloomy employment prospects, DARPA reckons that IT types - especially computer scientists, particularly ones suited to military/DARPA style projects, that is mad computer scientists - are going to be increasingly in demand.
Our systems are becoming more complex, requiring more people with the software engineering talent to manage and maintain them. Finding the right people with increasingly specialized talent is becoming more difficult and will continue to add risk to a wide range of [military] systems that include software development.
Recent studies conducted by DARPA revealed that public perception is a critical issue. Study participants believed that the “dot-com bust” and “international outsourcing” have led to fewer computer science jobs. In fact, the opposite is true: the US Department of Labor lists “Computer Software Engineers, Applications” as the fourth fastest growing occupation in the country in November 2007. Verbal reports from industry partners, as well as the presence of constant job openings, indicate industry is having difficulty finding software engineering talent to develop and maintain their software systems.
DARPA by its very nature considers radical new technology and the people who develop/maintain it critically important, so this scenario - an America short of top-end, radical scientists, especially computing ones - is a doomsday one for the agency. But DARPA isn't taking this lying down.
DARPA is interested in proposals with innovative new ideas to encourage students to major in CS-STEM and pursue careers as engineers and scientists. Increasing the number of graduates in Computer Science is a key goal, but the project will also be considered a success if the number of graduates in the broader STEM community is increased.
DARPA envisages this being done by reaching out to American kids as early as middle school, somehow getting them hooked on technology, and then keeping them on the string until they finally finish college with a qualification useful for DARPA's purposes.
"In order to compel students to graduate with a CS-STEM related degree, it is important to maintain a positive, long term presence in a student’s education," note the military boffins.
There's much talk of projects and extracurricular activities, which all seems a bit mundane for DARPA - one might rather have expected a plan to equip junior tech dorks with powerful robot servants able to protect them from towel-snapping jocks, and/or crafty exclusive technologies able to attract the attentions of the opposite sex: flying/submarine cars, love-hormone body sprays etc.
Full details are here in pdf for those interested. ®
Critical lack of computer scientists or just lack of *cheap* computer scientists ?!!!
I'm an employee of a US multinational with a Ph.D. in computer science. While I don't work on DARPA funded projects, neither do the vast majority of computer scientists. In my experience (and that of many of my colleagues in other US companies) the qualification of computer scientist has been greatly devalued by ignorant, financially minded management. We loose more and more projects to cheaper but inexperienced teams in India every day. I have nothing against Indians, many are fine engineers and scientists, but when your job that required a Ph.D with 10 years experience in the west is expected to be done by a team of second rate engineers with on average 18 months experience it leaves you wondering.
A smart young student today will be asking himself/herself "what job could I do in 4 years time that can't be easily outsourced to a cheaper country?" Computer science is not a safe bet.
Here we go again... (I thought we all understood the problem).
Here we go again...
Unless you foster a love of science and techie things by the time they're 7 you'll lose them to something more appealing or that which is more lucrative. Good scientists and techies need to have an almost apriori love of science and you can only get that at a very early age by being exposed to technical or scientific things.
With most education systems in English-speaking democracies having been $#@!ed up by do-gooder postmodernists over the last 30/40 years or so, there's a lot to do even if we could begin tomorrow.
Stop mollycoddling kids, bring back things like fireworks, chemistry sets and such. Unless kids get real hands-on experience at a very early age they essentially be useless to science.
Maybe they should consider offering misguided hackers with borderline Asberger's syndrome a job, rather than trying to lock them up for twenty years?