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Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 25 Mar 2000 22:21:57 -0500
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Hi all,

Here's what I wrote back to ada-first.


Forwarded message:
> From [log in to unmask]  Sat Mar 25 13:24:27 2000
> From: Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
> Message-Id: <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: A defense move in the language wars
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 13:24:26 -0500 (EST)
> Cc: [log in to unmask] (Michael Feldman)
> In-Reply-To: <[log in to unmask]> from "Murray Kirch" at Mar 25, 2000 08:13:38 AM
> X-Mailer: ELM [version 2.5 PL2]
> MIME-Version: 1.0
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
> Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
> Murray et al,
> >
> [snip]
> >
> > This has, at least for a short time, brought about a lull in our local
> > language wars. However, our side could use some reinforcements. If any
> > Ada enthusiasts out there would like to move to the sunny seashore of
> > southern New Jersey contact me. We are hiring now.
> >
> > --Murray Kirch
> > [log in to unmask]
> >
> This is a very useful set of correspondence. I'd like to add a few
> bits to the discussion.
> (1) At GW we have started to do a systematic survey of our seniors,
>     who have the perspective of the whole curriculum to look back on.
>     The survey has about 15 questions, most to be answered along the
>     well-known "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree" scale.
>     The questions range from general ("This program prepared me well
>     for industry or grad school") to the more specific.
>     One of the questions in this survey is "Of the programming languages
>     I have learned, Ada is a good choice of first language."
>     We developed the question very carefully to be as neutral as we
>     could. Since the students learn Ada, C, C++, and Java at various
>     points in the curriculum, the point was to assess their view of
>     Ada as the _first_ (not the only!) language.
>     We're still tabulating the results, but it looks like the majority
>     will be more toward the positive than toward the negative. Last year
>     there was no formal survey, just an in-class discussion, and the
>     results favored Ada even more strongly. Even 3 years later, the
>     students remembered the help they got from the language and from
>     GNAT in their first programming experience. With the perspective
>     they got from learning multiple languages, they appreciate Ada.
> (2) In my intro course, I've started requiring, in one of the lab
>     assignments, each student to cruise the Ada project web site at
>     and write a 25-word summary for each of 4 nonmilitary and 1 military
>     projects they find there. Any student (or faculty) who thinks Ada is
>     just for DoD obviously has not looked at that list.
>     I've spent a LOT of time assembling the info in that list, relying
>     on a lot of sources in the community (including many confidential
>     sources who pointed me to websites); I hope it will get wide use,
>     as I intended it to serve as just the ammo we all need.
> (3) In April we will have a very cool demo of the Air Traffic Management
>     (ATM) system, given by a team from Lockheed-Martin which is doing a lot
>     of the FAA and international ATM systems these days. (This is the
>     former IBM devision that was sold to Loral and thence to L-M.)
>     This will be a guest lecture in my intro course, which meets in
>     a room large enough that the ACM and IEEE student chapters are
>     co-sponsoring the event.
>     The publicity will not mention Ada, but the talk certainly will!
>     This group at Lockheed-Martin has hired several of our students
>     already, either after graduation or as co-ops.
>     Not all "Ada schools" are in locations where Ada work is being
>     done, but many are. I think the best ammo is to get people from
>     those companies to come in and talk to the students.
>     I used to be less "evangelical" within GW, mostly because I did
>     not want to be seen as grinding an ax. But I think the evangelism
>     works.
> (4) In preparation for the SIGAda booth at the recent SIGCSE conference,
>     I made up a prototype set of posters showing very crisply that Ada
>     is used in very interesting places. You are welcome to use these
>     if you wish, but keep in mind that some of the photos are under
>     copyright and we haven't finished getting permission. So don't
>     spread a lot of copies around and don't re-post them on the web.
>     The URL below is not yet linked to anything; I want to keep it
>     quiet until we have all the go-aheads, so please do NOT link it
>     from any other pages yet. Treat these as a draft.
>     I have copies hanging on the wall outside my office.
> Suggestions welcome!
> Mike Feldman