Issue No. 04 - April (2008 vol. 41)
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MC.2008.115
Bob Ward , IEEE Computer Society
Computer Science Enrollments Drop
Each year, the Computing Research Association conducts its Taulbee Survey of PhD-granting departments of computer science and computer engineering in North America. The survey documents trends in student enrollment, postgraduate employment, and faculty salaries. The CRA releases preliminary results on undergraduate enrollment in March and full results in May.
Fewer Computer Science Undergraduates
The number of students enrolled in computer science has fallen for several years. In fall 2007, the number of new computer science majors (7,915) was half of what it was in fall 2000 (15,958). Between 2005/2006 and 2006/2007, total enrollments declined 18 percent to 28,675. Overall, enrollments have dropped 49 percent from their peak in 2001/2002, while the median number of students enrolled in each department has fallen 53 percent since 2000/2001.
Degree Production Sinks
The decline in undergraduate numbers has had a significant impact on degree production. After posting several years of increases, the total number of bachelor's degrees awarded by PhD-granting computer science departments fell 43 percent to 8,021 between 2003/2004 and 2006/2007. The median number of degrees granted per department declined 39 percent to 42. The CRA suggests that the sustained drop in total enrollments and student interest in computer science as a major will cause degree production numbers to continue their slide over the next few years.
A steep drop in degree production among computer science departments has happened before. According to the US National Science Foundation, undergraduate computer science production nearly quadrupled between 1980 and 1986 to more than 42,000 degrees. This period was followed by a swift decline, leveling off in the early 1990s, with the number of degrees granted hovering around 25,000. During the late 1990s, computer science degree production again surged, reaching more than 57,000 in 2004.
Computing Research Association
The CRA is an association of more than 200 academic departments of computer science, computer engineering, and related fields. It includes organizations in industry, government, and academia that engage in basic computing research as well as affiliated professional societies. The Taulbee Survey is named in honor of the late Orrin E. Taulbee of the University of Pittsburgh, who from 1974 to 1984 conducted the survey for the Computer Science Board, the CRA's predecessor.
Society Rolls Out New Certification
In response to industry requests for a way to confirm the skill and knowledge levels of those just entering the software field, the IEEE Computer Society has created the Certified Software Development Associate certification, a new program created for those entering the software development profession.
CSDA certification takes a broad view of software development and validates knowledge of the foundations of computer science, mathematics, and engineering. Core software engineering principles covered include software construction, design, testing, requirements, and methods. The CSDA exam centers on key concepts addressed in The Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK) and Software Engineering 2004: Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Degree Programs in Software Engineering (SE2004.)
Certified Software Development Associate exam questions cover topics in each of the following areas:
Candidates can prepare for the exam by reviewing SWEBOK and selectively reading references in areas of software engineering that the exam covers. Candidates can also review applicable textbooks or university course notes. Two textbooks that cover the basics of software engineering are Ian Sommerville's Software Engineering, 8th edition (Addison-Wesley, 2007) and Richard H. Thayer and colleagues' two-volume Software Engineering, 3rd edition (John Wiley & Sons, 2005).
To learn more about the CSDA certification process, launched in beta mode early in 2008, visit www.computer.org/certification/csda.
IEEE Computer Society Launches Peer-Reviewed Webinars
The IEEE Computer Society is launching a peer-reviewed webinar series under the banner of Computing Now, a new initiative designed to bring more online technical content to its members and raise awareness of the Society's 14 technical magazines.
The Computing Now Webinar Series effort debuted with a webinar on standardizing software process improvement initiatives by Computer Society president-elect Susan (Kathy) Land, CSDP, principal software and systems engineer at MITRE. Land has more than 20 years of industry experience in practical software engineering methodologies, information systems management, and software development team leadership.
The six Computer Society webinars set for 2008 offer expanded access to the Society's wide-ranging intellectual property and the expertise of its members andcontributors. In contrast to many commercial offerings, the free webinars are delivered by real experts—authors, researchers, and scientists who seek to advance the profession.
To learn more about the free webinars, presented in cooperation with ON24, go to www.computer.org/webinar/standardizing.