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Danny Westneat (Seattle Times) on UW CSE

On Friday, Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat visited the final session of Stuart Reges‘s CSE 143.  His report:

“There may be no place where the gap between politics and reality is wider right now than the UW’s computer science department.

“Politics these days is all about shrinking. How can we retrench, reduce or reset.

“But even the lecture halls aren’t big enough to contain what’s actually going on in high-tech education.

“An intro to computer programming section was so jammed one recent morning that some students sat on the floor. The class was whooping and fist-pumping as their final project — a virtual smackdown between packs of coded, simulated “critters” — played out on the hall’s screen …

“This year, record numbers have swamped the UW’s beginning computer classes — nearly 2,000 students — eclipsing even the dot-com boom in the ’90s. Yet the department has trimmed faculty and has not expanded the number of degrees it awards, due to state budget cuts …

“The result is about the biggest lost opportunity you could imagine. The UW now turns aside roughly 500 of its own students every year who want to major in computer science (most major in something else, though some do transfer) …

“Last week, an 80-member group of business leaders formed to try to raise $1 billion for a new sports arena, to woo back the NBA. We’ll do that for sports. Couldn’t we do it for school?”

Read Danny’s terrific article here.  Learn about the sorry state of STEM education in Washington here.

December 10, 2011