Education of the future

If I were a young person choosing a field of work or study, I'd be inclined to give coding a shot.  It sounds wide open for people willing to keep learning something new.  Business applications for nanotechnology would be attractive as well.

This WSJ article suggests that colleges aren't focusing on the right training in the coding field.  It's still largely a self-taught skill pursued by the passionate, and boy, are they rock stars if they turn out to be good at it.


Grim said...

A similar bit of free advice: petroleum engineering. I just watched a show on the subject of the stuff they use offshore to extract oil, and it's pretty fascinating work (and well paid, of course). Or maybe it just seems so because it's novel to me. Perhaps it would get old -- but it seems pretty nifty.

David Foster said...

The guy who wrote the article says he has had bad experiences with Computer Science graduates. Personally, I've observed that people with advanced degrees...whether a CS degree or an MBA...are often too focused on using a methodology they learned in school than in doing what needs to be done for the business.

E Hines said...

advanced degrees...whether a CS degree or an MBA...are often too focused on using a methodology they learned in school than in doing what needs to be done for the business.

That's the advantage of my Systems Management degree--it taught a mindset, not a suite of tools.

Closer to the subject, materials science strikes me as a good field, too. Aside from burning the stuff for energy, all the hydrocarbons lay at the heart of the non-metallic materials we use and would like to develop for use.

Eric Hines

james said...

The word is that those "rock stars" can literally (not figuratively) be many times more productive than run of the mill coders. They're much rarer than people who think they're rock stars.

Sometimes that "methodology" is useful. Scientists often wind up writing an awful lot of code--they need something specific to happen, and they have the domain knowledge, and the budget typically doesn't have room for hiring a pro. I certainly did. But there wasn't any code review, or much in the way of best practices guidelines, and things like numerical stability of fits weren't generally on the radar. The result, when team's program ran, tended to be obscure bugs: a lot of awful code. It helped CDF a lot to hire some pros to organize the software framework. IceCube has code reviews of critical components (like the DAQ software).

But I can't say much about CS majors in general. The teams I've worked alongside tended to get really good people, with one exception (They hired a CS major who didn't have a summer internship. That should probably have been a clue.)

Eric Blair said...

CS majors are supposed to be building computers or writing computer languages, or a compiler, not running a payroll system.

That is the mistake that seems to be made all the time.

Most businesses are just looking to extend what they already have.

COBOL was supposed to be coded by secretaries.

David Foster said...

Here's the WSJ letter that I referenced:

The guy is CEO of a startup and is talking specifically about what he believes to be the low value of CS majors in a startup environment, not extending payroll systems in COBOL.

Ymar Sakar said...

Unity coders are pretty popular right now, since more people are using it and thus they need more programmers.

Generally it's not the degree they look for, because the degrees no longer accurately determine what your actual skills are. They want Skill A, and if you got Skill A, then that's what they will pay for. The rest is acquired on the job.