A place to discuss Joel on Software. Now closed.
This community works best when people use their real names. Please register for a free account.
Joel on Software
Business of Software
Design of Software (CLOSED)
.NET Questions (CLOSED)
Fog Creek Copilot
The Old Forum
Albert D. Kallal
Friday, May 15, 2009
While I welcome new thinking in the realm of higher education, I'm not sure that students are best served by monomaniacal focus on one topic. There's a hell of a lot of pragmatic virtue in having breadth of education, because you never know what life will throw at you. That said, the other extreme of curriculum design by committee that lards out a BSc to five years unless you want to take 18 hour semesters is also bad.
I would not choose to go because they feel just a bit too "votech"/"degree-mill" to me. Glossy brochureware site heavy on promises of future career and light on academic details is exhibit A on that front. Not that an ivy-covered stone hall and stereotypically shitty academic web design equate automatically to rigor, but...
No way in the world would I go there.
Even if 90% of them get a job in 3 months, they would probably get a job in 3 months no matter what university they went to.
University are the years you are becoming an adult .. learning about life ... the best years to find a young, smart, attractive soul mate. To discuss life, make friends for life.
And if you are really a geek, what's wrong with MIT? Sure, there may be a large male student body there, but Harvard's just across the way, and Boston university .. not to mention all the other people in Boston. Carnegie Mellon, any of the California schools (not to mention Stanford), Brown, U. of Texas ... there are hundreds of excellent schools in computer science ...
Life is about being happy ... learning software may be part of the equation but it isn't even the most significant part. I'll bet if you take a poll in 10 years time among comparable geeks, and rate the satisfaction with their lives ... well who knows. I just know I would have felt that I missed out on something.
Technical skills plus social skills. What's missing? Business skills.
It's still a better education than I got in college.
Liberal education? Sure, but there are far cheaper and more effective ways to get that that going to college. Find a good used bookstore and you're all set.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
To clarify my previous post, I think the journalist found some extreme cases of D&D types with BO and made it seem like the whole school is a bunch of losers. I think that was unfair and discriminatory.
It also avoided dealing with the real story here. This is a trade school, like a school for plumbing or hotel management. But it calls itself a university and issues BS degrees in CS. If it is accreditted, we have a serious problem. No accreditation board should have allowed such a program as a serious degree. It's technical training, nothing more nothing less and not worthy of being called a university.
These people do not take classes in writing, analysis of literature, physics, chemistry, world history or other classes that would make them qualified to claim to have a degree from a reputable school.
This is directly tied to US corporate propaganda and pressure right now, that says "hey, we are going to offshore your software engineering skills, but be great if you were still a great software engineer but could also manage and support our offshore teams with better business skills". Its all BS.
What we need is a course for MBA's, that teach them how to have a brain and actually know the technology they manage and sell and offshore all over the world.
How many of us know dumb-a*s IT sales people and CEO's and managers that dont have basic soft computer skills and try and sell things on the golf course without knowing what they heck they are talking about?
I think this piece tells it all about these guys:
"Eager to flirt, he and eight other members of a student group known as the Gentlemen's Order moseyed down to a mall recently and split into teams to see who could get the most phone numbers from women. The eager Lotharios wandered from food court to department store and back again, spending an afternoon in search of potential dates.
The sum total of their efforts: a single number.
"We got shot down as hell -- it was horrible," Murray said."
The whole exercise was doomed from the start. What these guys don't get is that you don't find a date by stalking women in a mall. Just like there is a time and place for playing D&D, there is a time and place for picking up ladies.
most "for profit" specialty training schools are trash. you need to look deeper into the numbers of the 90% who got jobs and what they are doing. compare those wages to what a good (not even the best students) get from a CS degree from a good state school.
I have looked at for profit colleges and most seem like crap. they are not challenging. they won't fail anyone because it affects the profit margin.
people should save their money and find the best CS department in a state school in your state.
I agree that the article was incredibly biased, and does nothing to serve well balanced geeks who are not social morons (the perception of many in the general public).
Still, a school with a single major churning out software engineers sounds like a terrible idea. When I first went to university I grew up so much with experiences and mistakes that would just not be possible in that environment.
The school's lack of diversity (in program and resulting student body: male, white, socially under-developed) is really a form of control; students don't have the options to make choices (some good, some bad) which is how we essentially become adults. I've seen the same thing with kids coming out of private schools (especially religion-affiliated) - they seem to "go wild" initially and over-indulge in new-found freedoms. Besides, every university I've ever attended has social groups like "the computer super-nerds" within the larger context of the entire population. They also have a myriad of political activist groups, the student paper, the social butterflies, etc.. This forces these groups to co-exist within the same environment (rather than pretend they don't exist).
Oh, and I know at least 3 or 4 universities in Utah that are well-known and respected internationally; I've never heard of this place. It also sounds expensive to buy that sort of nerd paradise.
Monday, May 18, 2009
strange this comes up now. I've wondered (because of my past, my schooling, my skillset and my accomplishments) why there ISN'T a tech school for software developers.
I've written software for 25+ years
I do not have a four year degree (as a matter of fact, I don't have a 2 year degree)
I'm very well respected amongst my (degreed) peers
I've lead teams
My title is Principal Software Engineer (I invented the product my company - over $1B revenue - bases it's stated future on)
Why is there an assumption that a 4 year degree is the only way into this field? We are, in many instances, technicians. I'll admit, I'm pretty smart - so I have learned a lot of the skills necessary to attain a degree - if I were to compare my skillset to a BSCs - the only 'classes' I haven't taken are calc and compiler design.
I guess the point of this screed is that I don't know why we're any different than a mason or an electrician. Most of the work the lot of us will do is best learned by doing.
(asbestos suit is now on)
I think it is more a question of what you are doing, and what is the most efficient way to learn it.
There is no substitute for learning by doing. However, courses can make the process more efficient.
Academic courses also teach many high-level concepts which you will have to dig a little to learn on your own (the first step is being aware of the concept so you have a direction for learning). Given that, an easy way to find this would be to get a computer science syllabus and read the course offerings.
U. of Waterloo has had great success in producing high quality software engineers with their co-op program - alternating terms of work and study. I think this is the most effective way to master the discipline.
With all the web resources around, you can do it either way -- study first, then work, work and study, or work first, study as needed along the way.
But there are a lot of advantages to a university education in computer science - 4 years of studying in a university environment will expose you to things and people outside of computer science - it's not the only way, but it's a pretty good way.
I am now maintaining (not on my own, thank Cthulu) a large codebase which was written by people who were evidently "learnin by doing" and had nobody around to teach them software design principles. Boy, what would I give to travel back in time and send them to CS school!
I have no CS degree either, I'm a humble physics PhD -- and until a genuine CS graduate joined our team, I didn't know even how many things in software development I didn't know. If you're "learning by doing", you better have someone with an academic CS background mentoring you, because the biggest problem you will face (and I did) will be ignorance about your own ignorance.
^ I hate working on code that was done by self-taught developers.
Nothing against self-taught developers, but most of them write slop. It works, but it tends to be very unstructured.
OTOH, I've found that CS grads are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Waaaaaaay too much structure going on. I think it usually takes a few years to tamp down on that love of structure to something more manageable.
likewise with self-taught developers. They need to tamp down on the unstructured craziness. The problem is they may not even know there's a decision to be made there (likewise with CS grads), so it's important that both camps get someone to help nudge them down a more practical path.
As noted, I'm not a 'CS grad'. However, to clarify, I'm not 'self-taught' either. I have done this the associates degree way, I've had all the basic CS courses re: design, development, specific languages (RPGII, Cobol, Fortran, BASIC, Pascal & Assembly - remember, I started college before 1980). And even a spate of Speech, Psych, History, Math, etc.
What I'd still like to know though is why can't this two year degree (which is offered at many community colleges) qualify someone to start in development? I'd even venture to say that the 2 year person would be as productive as the 4 year person for quite a long time - say 2 years anyway :) - and the company could even pay for the BSCs (most companies pay for school, no reason why they can't pay to get you to the next level)
"promising college freshman to finish with his remedial basic math and writing classes "
To me, 'promising' means intelligent, and I would assume that intelligent means graduating high school with 1 or 2 years of AP Calculus and a year of AP Composition.
Not too many people would pick someone whose intelligence is even 'average' as a good candidate for SW development.
And so, given these added criteria, why not a two year programming cert?
See the following link for a description of what I'm referring to:
Yeah dude I see that. A Programming lite degree in which you take algebra and then "precalculus". So you "graduate" shy of calculus. But to start, you have to be ready to take that algebra class, which will be 7th grade algebra. Check with your local JC and ask them how many students can take that algebra class their first year. They will tell you - it's around 2%.
Plus the course is all focused on specific languages. In a legitimate course of study, there will not be a single class that has the name of language in the title of the class.
The article may have been slanted, but I am leery of any educational institution that lets someone have it all his way. If he already knows it, then why go to the institution? If he does not, then what he does not know may be relevant for what he ought to learn. I suggest that the second case is the more common.
"Check with your local JC and ask them how many students can take that algebra class their first year. They will tell you - it's around 2%."
That's a shame, really a shame. But I return to my original point, that a reasonably intelligent student, with those credentials, should be OK.
And yes, this particular example shows a focus, but there are dozens of these programs everywhere (many JC's). I'm just wondering why, because I sure never see any on resumes that I get. (And if I did, I wouldn't disqualify them for entry level positions)
This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz