Spicing up computer science

See the full story about this on the improbably named Canoe site.

Schools across the country are taking steps to broaden the appeal of the major. More than a dozen universities have adopted “media computation” programs, a sort of alternate introduction to computer science with a New Media vibe. The classes, which have been launched at schools from the University of San Francisco to Virginia Tech, teach basic engineering using digital art, digital music and the Web. Others are turning to niche fields to attract more students. The California Institute of Technology, which has seen a slight drop in undergraduate computer science majors, has more than made up for the losses by emphasizing the field of bioengineering.

It’s a computer!

At Georgia Tech, computing professor Tucker Balch says the brain drain is partly the fault of what he calls the “prime number” syndrome. It’s the traditional way to teach computer science students by asking them to write programs that spit out prime numbers, the Fibonacci sequence or other mathematical series. It’s proven a sound way to educate students dead-set on joining the ranks of computer programmers, but it’s also probably scared away more than a few.

This is an angle that some Schools in the UK have taken but not many. Is it just a passing fancy? Looks unlikely – especially with the bioengineering tie-in.

I was also surprised at the statement that there were only 7,800 new Computer science students enrolled in the USA (I assume) last year. What is the UK figure – it can’t be too far behind?