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Default Computer science becomes Stanford's most popular major - 08-02-2012, 11:04 PM

For the first time in Stanford's history, computer science has become the most popular undergraduate major -- a milestone for a school conceived on a farm but now located in the holy land of technology.
The surge in interest is attributed to a job market that values software over Shakespeare -- as well as recent reforms that make entry-level classes exciting and accessible.
"Today's students have grown up using many computing technologies, including Web search engines, social networks and smartphones," said Mehran Sahami, computer science professor and associate chairman of the department's education program.
The computer science major "affords them the opportunity to go from being consumers of computing technology to producers of it, and that's a tremendously powerful transition."
The number of Stanford students specializing in computer science in 2012 trumps those in human biology, a long-standing favorite, 380 to 329, according to a new analysis by the university. Engineering ranks third, with 250 students. Stanford enrolls 6,900, but students don't declare majors until their third year.
A similar phenomenon is seen at UC Berkeley, a historic hotbed of activism where the number of students majoring in electrical engineering and computer sciences now far surpasses those in political science.
But psychology and business are the most popular majors at other Bay Area universities -- UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, San Jose State
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and Cal State East Bay.
In the humanities' heyday of the mid-60s, more than 1 in 3 Stanford students majored in languages, literature, the arts, history, cultural studies, philosophy and religion. By 1995, only about 1 in 10 did -- and that number hasn't budged much ever since.
Now one of Stanford's most popular classrooms is a course in creating apps for the iPad and iPhone. There is even a computer music class; that's where the popular MadPad got its start, turning street clamor into soundtracks.
In 2009, Sahami and colleagues rebooted the computer science major, reducing the number of core classes and making it more interdisciplinary, adding elective options like studio art and biology. Following that change, enrollment surged 83 percent in just two years.
They sought to introduce students to the broad reach of computing across many sciences, such as gene-sequencing that reveals the secrets of life and simulations that model climate change.
And while many universities use introductory classes to weed out students, "Stanford's courses are designed as funnels, to bring students into the discipline," Roberts said. "We put the best teachers in front of those (introductory) classrooms."
Stanford helped give birth to such heavyweight companies as Google, Yahoo and Sun Microsystems -- and new technology is now as ubiquitous as sandstone, tile and red sweatshirts.
Computer science student Kayvon Beykpour became a millionaire during his senior year, after the company he co-founded with friends was sold to Blackboard for $4 million.
"We have a passion for building things," he said, in a 2009 interview.
Some gifted Stanford students don't even stay to graduate. Ankit Gupta, for instance, cocreated the Pulse News Reader while at Stanford -- then left to raise $9 million in financing. His app, which allows users to aggregate news from their choice of publications and blogs, has been downloaded 30 million times, and the late Steve Jobs touted it.
"Stanford is the intellectual heart of Silicon Valley. Stanford students quickly come to understand that they should take at least one of the introductory computer science courses, which are very much part of the culture," said Eric Roberts, computer science professor.
The trend bodes well for the future of the valley -- and for companies around the world that seek to bolster their ranks with Stanford graduates.
"For years, the most common reaction I've gotten from industry leaders, both inside and outside the Valley, is that they love Stanford's program -- but that we don't produce nearly enough graduates to meet the demand," Roberts said.

http://www.mercurynews.com/education...-popular-major


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Default 08-03-2012, 12:59 AM

That's interesting, but not unexpected.

A couple decades ago, the most popular major was
Engineering, all varieties. That Engineering has dropped to third now
perhaps indicates that the market shrank for engineering graduates.

Almost everyone went on to get a Masters in Engineering, too.

Too boring for me...

The fact that psychology is a "major major" at Santa Cruz is not surprising,
as that university has always been more humanities-focused, to the
point of being Alternative. Not as much as Hampshire, one of the 5 Colleges
clustered in western Massachusetts, but I think grades were not
given at either school. Just pass-fail.

It could have changed.
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Default 08-03-2012, 01:02 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Catya Sher View Post
That's interesting, but not unexpected.

A couple decades ago, the most popular major was
Engineering, all varieties. That Engineering has dropped to third now
perhaps indicates that the market shrank for engineering graduates.

Almost everyone went on to get a Masters in Engineering, too.

Too boring for me...

The fact that psychology is a "major major" at Santa Cruz is not surprising,
as that university has always been more humanities-focused, to the
point of being Alternative. Not as much as Hampshire, one of the 5 Colleges
clustered in western Massachusetts, but I think grades were not
given at either school. Just pass-fail.

It could have changed.
Engineering is still a great field, but I'd agree that the demand is pretty low. The demand also varies on the region. For instance, an Electrical Engineer or Computer Engineer would have a really hard time finding a job on the east coast, while a CS major would have head-hunters blowing up his phone.

A field like Software Engineering(just 1 sub-field of CS, CS has hundreds of sub-fields)employs more people than Electrical Engineering, and various other Engineering disciplines combined.


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A line[Durrand line] of hatred that raised a wall between the two brothers -Hamid Karzai

For generations, the Hindus of India prayed for deliverance from "the venom of the cobra, the teeth of the tiger and the vengeance of the Afghan."

The men of Kábul and Khilj also went home; and whenever they were questioned about the Musulmáns of the Kohistán (the mountains), and how matters stood there, they said, "Don't call it Kohistán, but Afghánistán; for there is nothing there but Afgháns and disturbances." Thus it is clear that for this reason the people of the country call their home in their own language Afghánistán, and themselves Afgháns. The people of India call them Patán; but the reason for this is not known. But it occurs to me, that when, under the rule of Muhammadan sovereigns, Musulmáns first came to the city of Patná, and dwelt there, the people of India (for that reason) called them Patáns—but God knows!

-Ferishta, 1560–1620
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