27
JsonBoa
298d

Most kids just want to code. So they see "Computer Science" and think "How to be a hacker in 6 weeks". Then they face some super simple algebra and freak out, eventually flunking out with the excuse that "uni only presents overtly theoretical shit nobody ever uses in real life".

They could hardly be more wrong, of course. Ignore calculus and complexity theory and you will max out on efficiency soon enough. Skip operating systems, compilers and language theory and you can only ever aspire to be a script kiddie.
You can't become a "data scientist" without statistics. And you can never grow to be even a mediocre one without solid basic research and physics training.

Hack, I've optimized literal millions of dollars out of cloud expenses by choosing the best processors for my stack, and weeks later got myself schooled (on devRant, of all places!) over my ignorance of their inner workings. And I have a MSc degree. Learning never stops.

So, to improve CS experience in uni? Tear down students expectations, and boil out the "I just wanna code!" kiddies to boot camps. Some of them will be back to learn the science. The rest will peak at age 33.

Comments
  • 1
    Uni literally teaches shit nobody will use though. At least in my country. Comp Sci doesn't exist as such, it's considered an engineering subtype.

    As such, I had to take Chemistry 101 and 3 types of physics (101, Mechanic, Electric). Dealing with hardware directly was never a course.

    I also had 2 courses titled "Systems Theory" and "Information Systems" which should have been all about designing systems with things like UML, but instead were about a narcissistic old man rambling about how much he gets laid in Brazilian Carnivals. I. Shit. You. Not.

    Lots of math? Yeah. Useful math? Not so much. Complexity was almost an after thought. The college I went through has a.... good reputation. Its teachings though, seem to predate the internet.
  • 1
    i think everything my course teaches is relevant to us, but the area is getting so fuckin huge and branching out so much it's a lot of stuff to see in such a limited time. i wish they'd create different courses for different specializations. it's tough to cut the math out of what essentially is math tho
  • 1
    @darksideofyay Isn't the point to introduce array of subjects and see what interests you?
  • 1
    @darksideofyay a undergrad course in CS is but the tip of the iceberg. As said @respex , it barely even mentions most topics, you are just supposed to know that such topics exist and "taste like X or Y". And make sure you have the most basic skills just to be able to understand more specialized material.

    Shit hits the fan in grad school.
    I've met social network scientists who could not spin up a docker container for shit, and a compiler head who was unaware of the word "NoSQL". An optimization scientist who couldn't tell PHP from JS and a computer vision guy who thought that a 21 questions form would be filled by the same person four times a day. On an impressively sluggish Android app.

    So, yeah, a CS BSc is at least aware of the topics I mentioned above, and knowledgeable enough to choose something to be great at.
  • 0
    @JsonBoa idk the difference between undergrad and grad students, we don't have that here. is undergrad a shorter course?
  • 2
    @darksideofyay undergrad is "bachelor of science degree (BSc)", the "standard" and most common university degree.
    A graduate degree requires an undergrad degree and is usually called Masters of Science (MSc) or Philosophy Doctor (PhD). Thus an "undergrad" is just "regular uni/college student"
  • 2
    @JsonBoa ah i see, yep it's the same. bachelor, masters, doctorate, we call by those names
  • 4
    I think the job of a university should be to teach the next generation of scientist. Who will need a lot of theoretical knowledge. Unfortunately thats not what most people need in a job. Script Kiddies can provide quite some value to a company that doesn't care about perfect code. The important skill people need imho is to constantly be willing to learn.
  • 1
    @Wolle completely agree. people usually think college is a stepping stone for the job market, but it's supposed to be a stepping stone for academia. programming is menial work compared to the extent of our field
  • 1
    @Wolle @darksideofyay it may have been true to several fields, and for some might still be for a while.
    We will need plumbers, electricians, psychologists, teachers, sociologists and nurses for a loooong while yet (not an exhaustive list). Thus tactical knowledge distilled from single-observer experience can add value to a labourer for a lifetime.

    But... those are much older, commodity fields. Ours is a diamonds business, in which you can hire dozens of workers and two or three will tip the scales to your side. At the same time we're a banana business, in which the skills of your entire workforce can rot in the shortest of times.

    There are *lots* of travel, Blockchain and targeted marketing devs looking for a job right now, because the industry shifted below their feet.
    Some have the full-picture of knowledge that uni provides, but some don't. And for the later, it might be hard to transpose years of tactical knowledge to another industry. They might get terrible pay cuts.
  • 2
    @JsonBoa Nowadays to stay relevant in the job market one needs to constantly learn anyway. I think 4-5 years of tactical knowledge/job experience can be more useful than 4-5 years of university knowledge.
  • 1
    @Wolle for a while, that's for sure. But tactical knowledge stalls out pretty fast. You can only go so far with your own unstructured and unreviewed experience. Formal science is systematic and peer reviewed, so you can bring the whole accumulated knowledge of humanity to the table.
    Our field is so new and so disruptive to the old industry that an undergrad dropout can make billions. But that was rather a product of the dire situation of the old economy - outdated industries are a non-renewable money source.

    I would not bet on reinventing the wheel by my own for 3+ decades. But for an 18yo? I say go for it. Then go to uni when start wondering why a 108 teeth sprocket is so bad at its job.
  • 1
    @JsonBoa That makes sense. Your remark on our industry being very new, is good. I remember when attending physics classes we learned stuff almost 1000 years old that was still relevant. I know some people in the US who have a lot of debt and didn't learn anything. I think it's worth making it a strategic decision if going to Uni or rather start working, or doing it the other way round, work for a few years and then go to uni.
  • 0
    I'm in the opposite boat of those kids. I wanna learn computer science, chose an education that only teaches programming. Didn't know there was a difference. It's not that bad, I just wish we were learning more math and more about how computers actually work instead of creating web apps in C#. So I continue to try and learn what I really want by myself at home, as I did in primary school to learn programming in the first place, but that can be hard sometimes.
  • 0
    @ReimarPB man, you could have been a victim of workforce mills, those for-profit schools that call themselves "universities" trying to fool kids into paying premium for what amounts to little more than boot camp and some lectures.

    Some countries require that, for some federated schools to call themselves "university" (or l, to use the jargon, "be accredited") they must have at least one full course on classic and modern philosophy, divinity, and several PhD's and MSc's as professors.
    Some don't, and any jerk can call themselves "the moneymaker university".
    Beware, beware.

    A good way to evaluate an university is to check the academic prowess of the scientific staff. How many have PhDs, how often do they publish in academic papers, the impact factors of such papers, how many MSc's and PhD's have the university granted and what happened to those who graduated (in any degree).
    If they can't even tell you the information above, scam alert!
  • 1
    Great post. I think what happens a lot is that large companies pump marketing at the general public and especially to publications that folks like guidance counselors in high schools read. “coding” is routinely published as the best job to have if you want to make 6 figures USD. I think this is done so that employers can get more folks into the field and drive down salaries. My suspicion is that Universities quickly realized that they can’t get all these kids to pass the more rigorous science and engineering courses so they invented the Information Systems track under the guise that all you need is some basic computer systems knowledge and a broad business background. I fell for it hook, line, and sinker back in 2000 when I graduated high school. I never even considered a career in IT until I got pulled into all the dot com hype in my high school guidance counselors office.
  • 1
    I see myself here and not on the good side.
Add Comment