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TEAM-ADA  December 1999

TEAM-ADA December 1999

Subject:

Re: What the competition looks like

From:

"Richard L. Conn" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Richard L. Conn

Date:

Wed, 1 Dec 1999 19:26:25 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (185 lines)

I think you missed my point, but that's OK.

----------------------------------
Richard Conn, ASE and PAL Manager
http://xenadu.home.mindspring.com/

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95)
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 5:21 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: What the competition looks like
>
>
> I'm struck by my apparent lack of understanding of today's college degree,
> and it hasn't been that long since I graduated. I don't recall
> "fun" being a
> requirement (well, maybe after class!). I certainly didn't have any
> profeesors that worried whether we were having fun or not, they only cared
> if we learned the material. Besides, how much fun is it to work
> 60+ hours a
> week trying to beat a deadline because your requirements changed
> at the last
> minute? Or that COTS device driver doesn't quite work at all with two days
> to go?
>
> I was there to learn my engineering skills so I could go out into the real
> world, get a job, and be productive. I'm a EE not a CS, so maybe
> that's the
> difference, I don't know. But in the process of interviewing CS students
> recently I've noticed a trend, most of them have done nothing but Visual
> "this or that". That may be read as "they don't know anything!" I've even
> been asked how it's possible to write code without MFC or a GUI interface.
> When I hear things like this from "the next generation" it
> terrifies me. My
> windows machines need to be rebooted 2-3 times a day, anything that's not
> from M$ will cause errors, and the stupid M$word spell checker continually
> says my last name is misspelled but won't let me add it to the dictionary!
> This is not the type of software that will take us to the moon or mars, it
> is the type to leave naval vessels and space probes adrift at inopportune
> moments.
>
> If people are more concerned with having fun than they are with
> doing a good
> job then I have no need for them. There is room for both (those of you who
> know me know this is true!), but you cannot sacrifice quality and
> knowledge
> for "fun". Most engineers will say they have a lot of fun working in their
> chosen field, but I think most will also agree that to do a good job is a
> lot of hard work, learning, and application of knowledge.
>
> Why not start out teaching these kids what programming really is?
> They will
> either like it or not, and if they don't then they won't be wasting their
> time. The real world does not resemble VB as far as I can tell. VB isn't
> about requirements, design, or development, RTOSs, or embedded processors;
> it's about quick and dirty prototypes. People are in school to learn, they
> should be taught what is right from the beginning.
>
> But maybe I'm wrong, why not teach kids to drive with a simulator like
> "Redneck Rampage." Once they think driving is fun we can explain
> why its bad
> to run over pedestrians and drive on the curb while shooting out
> the window
> and drinking scotch....
>
> An extreme example to be sure, but I don't see it as being that
> different in
> principle.
>
> John T Apa                              [log in to unmask]
> L-3 CSW                                 (801) 594-3382
> PO Box 16850                            Fax: (801) 594-2195
> 640 North 2200 West                     Salt Lake City, UT. 84116-0850
>
>
>
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Richard L. Conn [SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
> > Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 1:02 PM
> > To:   [log in to unmask]
> > Subject:      Re: What the competition looks like
> >
> > William,
> >
> > I really have to disagree with your statement about
> > VB.  We are talking about teaching Freshmen, not
> > Juniors or Seniors.  In a very practical sense, if you
> > try to tell Freshmen how great generics, inheritance,
> > etc., are, it's likely that those who don't quit after
> > the first two weeks will have not done so because they
> > fell asleep and did not wake up in time ;-).  I used
> > to think Ada for Freshmen was the way to go as well
> > until I actually started teaching Freshmen (all my
> > previous courses were graduate level or industry).
> > Now that I've dealt on this level, being able to teach
> > a fun, visual language where they can have a running
> > program at the end of a three-hour lecture/lab on the
> > first day that displays full-color glossey pictures
> > and has push buttons and dialog boxes is a whole
> > different level than just having a program that prints
> > "Hello, World."  Then, having later discussions about
> > how it is not cool to have Windows crash while your
> > airplane it flying with it rings home.  And when
> > objects and classes become so natural that when they
> > look at other languages and don't immediately see them,
> > they ask why the objects aren't there, I think we have
> > a good thing.
> >
> > Different languages for different purposes is a theme
> > from day one.  In the meantime, programming at least
> > starts out by being fun, and that's the hook you want
> > for these people.
> >
> > So, no, you did not convince me.  VB is for the
> > beginners.
> >
> > Rick
> >
> > ----------------------------------
> > Richard Conn, ASE and PAL Manager
> > http://xenadu.home.mindspring.com/
> >
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95)
> > > [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Borgia, William M.
> > > Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 1:46 PM
> > > To: [log in to unmask]
> > > Subject: Re: What the competition looks like
> > >
> > >
> > >         Rick Conn wrote:
> > >         > You raise some very good concerns.  I'm glad to say
> > >         > that VB is not the only language the CS dept uses.
> > >         > The approach I'm taking with my Freshmen is that VB
> > >         > is fun, easy to learn, and there is a lot of object
> > >         > orientation there.  You can see my course slides
> > >         > on my University website for the objects and classes
> > >         > part of the course.  VB is kind of like a hook in
> > >         > this case.  I also talk about Ada, by the way, in the
> > >         > VB class.
> > >
> > >         > I'm a firm believer in building in the students an
> > >         > infrastructure they can use to move in any direction,
> > >         > regardless of language or technology change.
> > >
> > >
> > >         [Borgia:]
> > >
> > >         Of those three languages (VB, Ada and C++), VB is perhaps
> > > the worst
> > > choice for an introductory course.  Sure, your statement about
> > > infrastructure is correct, but consider the stronger
> > > infrastructure that the
> > > students would likely develop with Ada as the introductory language.
> > >
> > >         We don't need to start the whole argument again, but VB (and
> > often
> > > C++ and usually Java too) lacks some important
> characteristics inherent
> > in
> > > Ada.  These include strong enumerations, subtyping and ranging,
> > generics,
> > > meaningful parameter modes, tasking and a safe and elegant
> > > implementation of
> > > pointers, to name a few.
> > >
> > >         VB shines in how well Microsoft has integrated it into its
> > Office
> > > suite.  By the way, have they improved on error handling
> since the days
> > of
> > > "on error goto?"
> > >
> > >         VB and C++ often teach introductory students bad habits.  An
> > > instructor who exploits the best features of Ada will help ward off
> > these
> > > bad habits in the future.  Having this "infrastructure," the
> > > students would
> > > be more likely to develop better applications in C++, Java, VB or
> > whatever
> > > when the time comes.  The converse is much less likely to happen.
> > >
> > >         Bill Borgia

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