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Google and IBM Embrace Computing Challenge

Google and IBM have announced an initiative intended to promote new software development methods to help students and researchers address the challenges of future Internet-scale applications. The University of Washington was the first to join the initiative, which is designed to improve computer science students' knowledge of highly parallel computing practices and address the emerging paradigm of large-scale distributed computing. Initiative members now include Carnegie Mellon University; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Stanford University; the University of California, Berkeley; and the University of Maryland. To support the initiative, Google and IBM plan to expand their current cluster of 100 computers dedicated to the project to more than 1,600 processors.

High School Students to Get Engineering Push

A national education initiative has been launched to expose high school students to engineering. The effort by the National Academy Foundation, Project Lead the Way, and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering will initially create 13 engineering academies in high schools around the country. A US $3 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and $1 million each from Motorola, Verizon, and Xerox is funding the initiative. Eventually, more than 100 such academies are planned, each one focusing on giving students a math and science background to pursue postsecondary degrees in engineering. The curriculum will be geared to specific industries, such as finance, technology, hospitality, and tourism.

Growth Expected for IT Services Market

Growth in IT services is expected to remain solid as worldwide IT services raise their end-user spending to exceed US$730 billion this year, up nearly 9 percent from the previous year, according to a Gartner forecast. IT management and process management remains the highest growth area in the market. Gartner predicts that core outsourcing services will represent 41 percent of total worldwide end-user spending for IT services in 2007. The development and integration segment is forecast to reach $225 billion this year, up 9 percent from 2006. Regulatory and compliance initiatives, and a continued push for improved business change management and agile architectures, is fueling this growth, Gartner analysts note.

Higher Starting Salaries Are No Enticement

Higher starting salaries are apparently doing little to increase college enrollments in computer science and engineering, according to a recent report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Despite computer science graduates commanding average annual starting salaries of $51,992, the major now accounts for just 3.8 percent of bachelor's degrees conferred, with an annual 0.6 percent decline between 2006 and 2007.
New graduates in engineering, a major that experienced a 2.2 percent annual decline, received an average offer of $53,710, the highest among the 10 disciplines tracked. Psychology and visual and performing arts recorded growth rates of more than 2 percent, despite annual starting salaries of about $30,000. In light of the results, Executive Director Marilyn Mackes expects employers to continue to use salary to attract computer science and engineering graduates. "A bigger issue for employers," she stated, "is how to make the fields themselves more appealing so that more students will choose to study these disciplines."

CIOs Expect More Hiring than Layoffs

Fourteen percent of CIOs polled for the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report expect to add IT staff in the fourth quarter of 2007, while 2 percent anticipate cutbacks. The net 12 percent hiring increase compares with net increases of 15 percent projected last quarter and 10 percent projected one year ago. Some 83 percent foresee no change in fourth-quarter hiring. The primary motivation for adding IT personnel, according to CIOs, was corporate growth, followed by increased need for customer and end-user support, and installation or development of new applications.

Growth in Student Loans Slows

While college tuition has posted moderate gains during the past year, growth in student borrowing has slowed. The College Board's annual report on college costs found that average in-state tuition and fees of $6,185 at public four-year institutions in 2007-08 were up 6.6 percent over the previous year, while annual total charges of $13,589 (including room and board) were up by 5.9 percent. At private four-year nonprofits, meanwhile, tuition and fees averaged $23,712, a 6.3 percent increase over the previous year, and total charges averaged $32,307, up 5.9 percent. In 2006-07, about three-quarters of full-time undergraduates received some form of financial aid, according to the College Board's annual report on student borrowing. In 2006-07, the most recent year for which data is available, undergraduate students received $97.1 billion in financial aid.

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