The State of Computer Science in National Colleges And Universities


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Department of Computer Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University


The author served on the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) task force on computer science education during the academic year 1983; this report was originally offered as the first chapter in the report of that task force. The task force felt that the chapter would be too long and would detract from the remainder of the report and findings on the state of computer science in Virginia. In this author's opinion the state of computer science (a generic term which is intended to cover computer science per se, information science and data processing) in Virginia is probably little worse than in the rest of the nation, but there are no pinnacles of excellence. The pragmatic nature of the senior institutions may be an advantage in light of the need for technology transfer in the industrial environment of the state. The four year colleges are by no means meeting the needs of the industry and are graduating only a small proportion of the number of graduates needed by industry. On the other hand, this report suggests that the need expressed by the industry is exagerated; the demand should be for highly qualified applications programmers rather than computer scientists. The community college program is clearly meeting the needs of their communities though there may be some question as to whether the level of expertise in those localities and the consequent level of education of students will permit them to have any sensible mobility in today's society. One major result of that parochialism is the inability of students from community colleges to transfer effectively to four year institutions. While this is not a major mission of the community colleges the number of students who believe this to be a means of gaining a bachelor's degree is too large to ignore. The reader should refer to the Task Force report for the opinion of the task force on the condition of computing in the Commonwealth.