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Driving STEM: The exploding demand for computer science education

uwchartThe chart above tells quite a story. That blue line — the one that looks like a hockey stick — shows how interest in computer science from freshmen at the University of Washington in Seattle has skyrocketed since 2010 compared with other engineering fields.

The UW is not alone. Countless other U.S. universities, from Harvard to Stanford to the University of Michigan, are seeing similar demand for computer science degrees.

On the surface, it’s an encouraging trend for the tech industry, which can’t get enough new engineers. But beneath the surface is a problem: College students want to become computer scientists, but in many cases there isn’t enough room or faculty to meet the demand.

Young adults today are realizing how computer science knowledge can help them succeed at not just being a software developer, but with nearly any job. Heck, even journalists like us are being encouraged to take a few Javascript and HTML courses.

“Kids are waking up,” said Ed Lazowska, the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the UW. “Every field is becoming an information field, and if you can program at a level beyond an intro course, it’s a huge value to you.”

It’s also becoming the popular thing to learn. Yep, being a geek is cool in today’s world.

“Students feel that computing is socially relevant and even hip,” said Ran Libeskind-Hadas, the computer science department chair at Harvey Mudd College.

But while it may be encouraging to see so many young minds yearning to build technologies and change world, is there a solution to the insane demand?

Click here to read more from this June 6, 2014 GeekWire article by Taylor Soper.



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