Computer science enrollment low, despite opportunities

Computer science students at the University of Windsor enjoy a perfect job placement rate, but the school says not enough people are entering the field. Ziad Kobti, the director of the university’s school of computer science, says part of the problem is due to government cutbacks that have resulted in some high schools losing their computer labs. “[If] you don’t have a computer lab, you don’t have a computer course,” he said. “That means you won’t have qualified computer science instructed at that high school that would motivate these students.” JoAnne Shea, superintendent of education with the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board, said four of the eight high schools offer computer science programs. She said the school board “encourages students to pursue computer sciences when they are interested.” She added that students “have to have interest and a skill set to pursue that path.” Scott Scantlebury with the Greater Essex County District School Board said all but one of their high schools (Harrow) offers a computer science or computer engineering program. The classes are not mandatory in the province and it’s up to the student to show an interest and take the class. Scantlebury said the industry has to promote itself with communities, schools and the government much like the manufacturing trade industry has done recently. “If they’re not getting enough employable people in their field, I would think that it would be incumbent on the industry to be promoting that and then trickling down to the students at the high school level,” he said. According to a report from the Information and Communication Technology Council, Canada is facing a major shortage of skilled labour in the information technology sector. Kobti said graduates of his program are not limited to working for computer companies such as IBM and Google. “If you go to the automotive industry, if you go into different companies, such as supply chain management, the trucking industry — they need programmers,” he said. That doesn’t mean jobs with the giants of the technology industry aren’t available. Chris Drouillard, who will graduate this year, already has a six-figure job lined up as a software engineer with Google. Drouillard, 21, said he also got a similar offer from Microsoft. “I’ve always wanted to work at either Google or Microsoft — big companies doing hard things — and then, to be able to get an offer at the age of 21 before I’ve even graduated, is awesome,” he said. Drouillard says he got into computer science in high school, because he liked to play computer games and had an aptitude for math. He was able to take computer science classes throughout high school, which he said put him ahead of many of his university classmates. “[The program] starts out really easy, because we don’t require that high school students have computer science,” he said. “Everyone starts at the base level, which can kind of be slow for people that have already taken it in high school or played around on their own.” Drouillard said despite that, everyone who graduated from the program ahead of him has landed a good job, and a few of his classmates already have paid internships lined up with major software companies in the US. In the U.S., the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the number of software developers needed will increase by 30 per cent between 2010 and 2020. See more here



Light it up blue!

Thanks for reading… Tomorrow (or today, depending on when you’re reading this) is World Autism awareness day. It was adopted in 2007 by the UN general assembly for April 2nd. The day is to raise awareness of those affected by Autism in their lives. The UN site on this states:

“This international attention is essential to address stigma, lack of awareness and inadequate support structures. Now is the time to work for a more inclusive society, highlight the talents of affected people and ensure opportunities for them to realize their potential”

– Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

And some facts from the Autism speaks site state:

  • Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys
  • Autism prevalence figures are growing
  • Autism is the fastest-logogrowing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
  • Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average
  • Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases
  • Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism
  • There is no medical detection or cure for autism

Many tomorrow will be “lighting up blue” to support this day and raise awareness. Again, I thank you for your time. Mr. Wachs (proud dad)