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"John P. Woodruff" <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 1 Dec 1999 15:19:15 -0800
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I've been reading the correspondence that Rick Conn started, and some ideas
that folks stated provokes my inner curmudgeon.

I start from Jim Hopper's (sardonic, not sincere) quote:
>Physics would keep so many more freshmen if we didn't bore them with
>the fundamentals of silly things like newtons laws of motion, and
>such.  if we just went right to learning about how to use them to
>make weapons, and other glitzy fun things we would excite way more of
>them to stay in the field.

This makes me think that there probably two collections of freshman out
there: the ones that Rick knows:
>> 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 ;-).

And the (far less numerous) ones that still live to the ideal John Apa tells:
>   [...]   I don't recall "fun" being a
>requirement (well, maybe after class!). I certainly didn't have any
>professors 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.


So my proposition is: there are two consumers of the education in the
computing field: folks who might follow a career path like mine (we can get
them to major in software engineering, but when I went to university,
computers weren't science yet ;-)  They earn degrees in physics or EE and
they build hard-science projects like astrophysics simulations and fusion
control systems.   And the other folks: they implement the glitz for
commercial "send-in-your-money.com".

The VB glitz builders are certainly most numerous at present (Silicon
Valley is just one traffic jam south of where I live). But I think the
lasting value of well engineered technology (yes, I mean Ada) will continue
to offer livelihood for the engineers among us even after the current
market bubble does whatever it is that bubbles do.

So I suggest folks who can influence computer education select their
target. Us Ada groupies can be most effective if we feed the intellects of
those students who will profit from the discipline we are able to teach.
There are such folks, but they may always be in a minority.

--
John Woodruff                                   N I F   \ ^ /
Lawrence Livermore National Lab               =====---- < o >
925 422 4661                                            / v \

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