Education

Computer Science Enrollments Match NASDAQ's Rises and Fall 53 53

dcblogs writes: In March 2000, the NASDAQ composite index reached a historic high of 5,048, at just about the same time undergrad computer science enrollments hit a peak of nearly 24,000 students at PhD-granting institutions in the U.S. and Canada, according to data collected by the Computing Research Association in its most recent annual Taulbee Survey. By 2005, computer science enrollments had halved, declining to just over 12,000. On July 17, the NASDAQ hit its highest point since 2000, reaching a composite index of 5,210. In 2014, computer science undergrad enrollments reached nearly, 24,000, almost equal to the 2000 high. Remarkably, it has taken nearly 15 years to reach the earlier enrollment peak.
Education

Senate Passes 'No Microsoft National Talent Strategy Goal Left Behind Act' 132 132

theodp writes: Microsoft is applauding the Senate's passage of the Every Child Achieves Act, a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act, saying the move will improve access to K-12 STEM learning nationwide. The legislation elevates Computer Science to a "core academic subject", opening the door to a number of funding opportunities. The major overhaul of the U.S. K-12 education system, adds Microsoft on the Issues, also "advances some of the goals outlined in Microsoft's National Talent Strategy," its "two-pronged" plan to increase K-12 CS education and tech immigration. Perhaps Microsoft is tackling the latter goal in under-the-radar White House visits with the leaders of Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC, like this one, attended by Microsoft's William "It's Our Way Or the Canadian Highway" Kamela and FWD.us President Joe "Save Us From Just-Sort-of-OK US Workers" Green.
Mars

Interviews: Shaun Moss Answers Your Questions About Mars and Space Exploration 48 48

Recently the founder of the Mars Settlement Research Organization and author of The International Mars Research Station Shaun Moss agreed to sit down and answer any questions you had about space exploration and colonizing Mars. Below you will find his answers to your questions.
Education

Melinda Gates: Facebook Engineers Have Solved One of Education's Biggest Problem 162 162

theodp writes: Asked by the NY Times if Silicon Valley is saving the world or just making money, Melinda Gates replied, "I can say without a doubt — because I've seen it — that some of them [SV companies] are innovating in ways that make life better for billions of people." As an example, BillG's better half suggests that a handful of Facebook engineers have solved one of education's biggest problems with their 20% time project at billionaire-backed Summit Public Schools, a small charter school operator. Gates writes, "One of the biggest problems in American education is that teachers have to teach 30 students with different learning styles at the same time. Developers at Facebook, however, have built an online system that gives teachers the information and tools they need to design individualized lessons. The result is that teachers can spend their time doing what they're best at: inspiring kids." Some people — like the late Roger Ebert — might not be quite as impressed as Melinda to see Silicon Valley trying to reinvent the 1960's personalized-learning-wheel in 2015!
Education

Video CanSat Helps Students Make & Launch Sub-Orbital 'Satellites' (Video) 22 22

The Magnitude (motto: "Powered by Curiosity") "Can-sized satellites" aren't technically satellites because they're launched on rockets that typically can't get much higher than 10,000 feet, or as payloads on weather balloons that can hit 100,000+ feet but (obviously) can't go beyond the Earth's atmosphere. But could they be satellites? Sure. Get a rocket with enough punch to put them in orbit and off you go -- something Magnitude Co-founder and CEO Ted Tagami hopes to see happening in his local school district by 2020. Meanwhile, they'll sell you assembled CanSat packages or help you build your own (or anything in between), depending on your schools resources and aspirations. Have a question or an idea? Talk to Ted. He'd love to hear from you. Use the Magnitude Web form or send email to hello at magnitude dot io. Either way works.
Businesses

Why Certifications Are Necessary (Even If Aggravating To Earn) 213 213

Nerval's Lobster writes: Whether or not certifications have value is a back-and-forth argument that's been going on since before Novell launched its CNE program in the 1990s. Developer David Bolton recently incited some discussion of his own when he wrote an article for Dice in which he claimed that certifications aren't worth the time and money. But there's a lot of evidence that certifications can add as much as 16 percent to a tech professional's base pay; in addition a lot of tech companies use resume-screening software that weeds out any resumes that don't feature certain acronyms. There's also the argument that the cost, difficulty, and annoyance of earning a certification is actually the best reason to go through it, especially if you're looking for a job; it broadcasts that you're serious enough about the technology to invest a serious chunk of your life in it. But others might not agree with that assessment, arguing that all a certification proves is that you're good at taking tests, not necessarily knowing a technology inside and out.
Education

US Wins Math Olympiad For First Time In 21 Years 280 280

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. won the International Mathematical Olympiad for the first time in 21 years. Gender diversity is brought up in this NPR article because the eight team members on the U.S. team were all male, but they made a point to mention that of the top 12 people participating in the U.S. Math Olympiad, 2 are female, which is better than last year when there were no females in the top 12. "I will say that it's not really a super-great spectator sport, in the sense that if you are watching them, it will look like they are thinking," Po-Shen Loh, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and head coach for Team USA says. "Although I will assure you that inside their heads, if you could spectate, that would be quite a sport."
Businesses

Silicon Valley Still Wrestling With Diversity Issues 398 398

An anonymous reader writes: As major tech companies come under increased scrutiny over the diversity of their workforces, many of them are focusing solely on the "pipeline" of workers educated in a computer-related field. They're pouring resources into getting kids to code, setting up internships, and even establishing mentoring programs for underrepresented groups. But experts say they're still failing to root out their own internal biases when making hiring decisions. "That bias shows up in recruiting, with companies drawing from the same top universities, where black and Hispanic graduates are still lagging behind other groups. ... The problem is particularly acute at start-ups, where black founders are just 1 percent of venture-invested firms, according to a 2011 survey by CB Insights." The tech companies are under mounting pressure to solve this problem, and the solutions they're pursuing won't show results quickly.
Microsoft

Microsoft Uses US Women's Soccer Team To Explain Why It Doesn't Hire More Women 212 212

theodp writes: "It is not surprising that the U.S. women have been dominant in the sport [of soccer] in recent years. The explanation for that success lies in the talent pipeline," writes General Manager of Citizenship & Public Affairs Lori Forte Harnick on The Official Microsoft Blog. "Said another way, many girls in the U.S. have the opportunity to learn how to play soccer and, as a result, they benefit from the teamwork, skill development and fun involved. That's the kind of opportunity I would like to see develop for the technology sector, which presents a different, yet perhaps even more significant, set of opportunities for girls and young women. Unfortunately, the strength in the talent pipeline that we see in female soccer today is not the reality for technology. The U.S. is facing a shortage of Computer Science (CS) graduates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, every year there are close to 140,000 jobs requiring a CS degree, but only 40,000 U.S. college graduates major in CS, which means that 100,000 positions go unfilled by domestic talent." Going with the soccer analogy, one thing FIFA realized that Microsoft didn't is that if you want girls to play your sport, you don't take away their ball!
Education

Interviews: Ask Dr. Temple Grandin About Animals and Autism 131 131

Being listed in the "Time 100" of the most influential people in the world in the "Heroes" category, is just one of the many awards received by Temple Grandin. Diagnosed with autism at the age of two, Temple overcame many obstacles and earned a doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a professor at Colorado State University. Dr, Grandin is recognized as an expert in animal behavior and one of the leading advocates for the rights of autistic persons. She lectures, and has written numerous books on animals and autism, and was the subject of the award-winning, biographical film, Temple Grandin . Dr. Grandin has agreed to take some time out of her schedule to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Perl

Larry Wall On Perl 6, Language Design, and Getting Kids To Code 133 133

M-Saunders writes: Perl 6 has been a long time in the making, but Larry Wall, the language's chief developer, now says it should arrive in time for Christmas. In this interview with Linux Voice, Wall explains why Perl 6 took so long, and describes how his background in linguistics influenced the design of the language. He also discusses ways to get kids interested in coding, and notes that Python has done a better job so far in this respect.
Stats

As Big Data Plateaus, Data Science Education Grows 41 41

gthuang88 writes: Even as the hype around big data has died down, opportunities for data scientists are expanding. Johns Hopkins, NYU, and MIT are among the schools offering courses in data science, and IBM and other big companies are investing heavily in training programs. Now a startup called DataCamp has raised $1 million to expand online courses in R programming, Apache Spark, and other topics. The deal speaks to the opportunity that venture capitalists see in training the next generation of data scientists and business analysts. It also shows online education is specializing beyond platforms like Codecademy, Coursera, and Udacity.
Microsoft

For Microsoft, Windows 10 Charity Begins At Home 74 74

theodp writes: "We're investing $10 million in organizations that are upgrading the world," Microsoft announced on in its new Upgrade Your World website, which was created in conjunction with the Windows 10 launch. "We've identified nine global nonprofits, and we'd like your help choosing the 10th." The missions of the selected nonprofits include fighting global poverty, preventing children living with HIV from needlessly dying, increasing access to quality education for children in the developing world, conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends, and ensuring that all kindergartners learn 'computer science.' To paraphrase Sesame Street, can you guess which cause is not like the others? If you guessed Code.org, which wants CS made a "core" K-12 subject in U.S. schools, you're right! Coincidentally, Code.org's biggest donors include Microsoft ($3M+), Ballmer Family Giving ($3M+), and Bill Gates ($1M+). And Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi, who once reported to Satya Nadella, is coincidentally a sometimes jogging partner of Steve Ballmer, as well as the next-door neighbor of Microsoft General Counsel and Code.org Board member Brad Smith, whose FWD.us bio notes is responsible for Microsoft's philanthropic work. Code.org emerged on the scene shortly after Smith suggested that action on Microsoft's 'two-pronged' National Talent Strategy to increase K-12 CS education and the number of H-1B visas could be galvanized by 'producing a crisis'.
Education

University of Toronto: Anti-vaccine Homeopathy Course Is Fine 273 273

The University of Toronto recently undertook an investigation of one of its courses, a bachelor-level health class that taught both anti-vaccination materials and the "science" of homeopathy. The investigation was undertaken because of complaints from professors and other scientific and medical experts. Surprisingly, the university concluded that the class was just fine. "Students taking (the course) ... are in their final year of study and are expected to approach controversial topics with a critical lens. The instructor reports that she provides these readings as the students have already seen the other side in previous courses." The course's syllabus is available for reading. It contains quotes like this: "There are broad concepts that bind various 'alternative' medical modalities together. Among these is the assertion that the human organism, which developed as an integrated unit in its formation, also functions as an integrated unit; that mind, body, and spirit are inextricably linked. Disorder or disturbance in any one of these areas can cause disease in another area."
Update: 07/13 14:14 GMT by S : Reader Gallenod points out that the University has now decided that the course will not be taught during the 2015-2016 academic year, or over the summer.
Education

CSTA: Google Surveying Educators On Unconscious Biases of Students, Parents 173 173

theodp writes: According to a Computer Science Teachers Association tweet, Google is reportedly asking educators to assess the unconscious bias of students and their parents for the search giant. "We are in the early stages of learning how unconscious bias plays out in schools, and who would benefit most from bias busting materials," begins the linked-to 5-page Google Form, which sports a ub-edu@google.com email address, but lists no contact name. "This survey should take 15 minutes to complete, and your responses are confidential, meaning that your feedback will not be attributed to you and the data will only be used in aggregate form." The form asks educators to "list the names of organizations, tools, and resources that you have used to combat unconscious bias," which is defined as "the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner." A sample question: "Who do you think would benefit most from unconscious bias training at your school (or program)? Rank the following people in order (1=would most benefit to 5=would benefit least) training: Student, Parent (or guardian), Teacher (or educator), Guidance counselor, Principal." Google deflected criticism for its lack of women techies in the past by blaming parents' unconscious biases for not steering their girls to study computer science, suggesting an intervention was needed. "Outreach programs," advised Google, "should include a parent education component, so that parents learn how to actively encourage their daughters."
Education

Well-Played: Microsoft Parlays NSF Video 'Remake' Into National CS K-12 Crisis 69 69

theodp writes: K–12 computer science and information technology teachers head to Grapevine, TX this week for the 2015 CSTA Conference. A glance at the draft agenda shows a remarkable number of presenters employed by or tied to two-year-old Code.org, the tech-bankrolled nonprofit that coincidentally sprung up together with Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC just months after Microsoft called for the creation of a national K-12 CS and tech immigration crisis to advance its agenda. Code.org's shaping of the nation's CS K-12 education began with the release of its tech-billionaire and celebrity-studded, slickly-produced What Most Schools Don't Teach video, which went viral on YouTube after being promoted by politicians, Facebook, Google, and a Microsoft-sponsored theatrical release, sparking a groundswell of interest in expanding K-12 CS education, succeeding where a similarly-themed-and-messaged but decidedly-amateurish National Science Foundation video of real-but-little-known computer scientists failed just months earlier (YouTube Doubler comparison). (More, below.)
Stats

The College Majors Most Likely To Marry Each Other 90 90

schnell writes: The blog Priceonomics has published an analysis showing students in which college majors end up marrying another student with that same major. Religious studies (with 21% of students marrying another studying the same field) tops the list among all students, followed by general science. Perhaps unsurprising is that some majors with gender disparities show a high in-major marriage rate among the less represented group — for example, 39% of women engineering majors marry a fellow student in their field, while among men 43% studying nursing and 38% studying elementary education do likewise. The blog concludes that your choice of major may unwittingly decide your choice of spouse, and depending on how well that field is paid, your economic future.
Programming

13% of CompSci Grads Have Starting Salaries Over $100K 264 264

itwbennett writes: That was one of the findings of a survey of 50,000 U.S. college students and recent graduates by Looksharp, a marketplace for internships and entry-level jobs. For general findings across all majors, check out the State of College Hiring Report 2015. But the company shared some more computer science-specific findings with Phil Johnson. Among them: "Of all majors, students studying in CS had the highest average starting salary, $66,161." And, what's more, they know the value of their degree: "On average, they expected a starting salary of $68,120, slightly above the actual average starting salary of $66,161."
Education

Are Certifications Worth the Time and Money? 296 296

Nerval's Lobster writes: Having one or more certifications sounds pretty sensible in today's world, doesn't it? Many jobs demand proof that you've mastered a particular technology. But is the argument for spending lots of time and money to earn a certification as ironclad as it seems? In a new column, developer David Bolton argues 'no.' Most certifications just prove you can pass tests, he argues, not mastery of a particular language or platform; and given the speed at which technology evolves, most are at risk of becoming quickly outdated. Plus they aren't the sole determiner of whether you can actually land a job: 'Recruiters sometimes have trouble determining a developer's degree of technical experience, and so insist upon certificates or tests to judge abilities. If you manage to get past them to the job interview, the interviewer (provided they're also a developer) can usually get a good feel for your actual programming ability and whether you'll fit well with the group.' Are certifications mostly a rip-off, or are some (especially the advanced ones) actually useful, as many people insist?
Businesses

Microsoft Offers Washington a Bargain: More State Taxes, For More Education 161 161

reifman writes: The Washington State Legislature and its budget is a complete mess this year but there's been an unusual bright spot which may quiet the protesters Slashdot reported earlier: Microsoft has volunteered for an exclusive $28 million annual tax — as long as the state funds a number of computer science degree programs. Visions of these faded after the 2008 recession when the legislature cut $4 billion from K-12 and higher education spending in part to cover the coming legalization and amnesty for Microsoft's Nevada tax dodge (students' tuitions only increased 58.6 percent.) With Microsoft's voluntary tax, the company will have fully repaid its $8.75 billion tax dodge by 2327, just 312 years from now.