Tsunami or Sea Change? Responding to the Explosion of Student Interest in Computer Science


February 4, 2015


Ed Lazowska


University of Washington


In the US, student demand for computer science is booming: demand for introductory courses; demand for the major; demand for upper-division and graduate courses by non-majors. Industry demand, too, is booming: it is predicted that 71% of all newly-created jobs in all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields in the current decade will be in computing, and 57% of all available jobs, whether newly-created or available due to retirements. Our field has faced booming enrolments twice in the past: in the mid-1980s, and in the late 1990s. Universities were unable to respond adequately. The current boom shows signs of dramatically exceeding these previous ones. In this talk, I will present the data, and argue that the current boom in interest may be a long-term trend rather than part of a cycle. I will discuss possible approaches to accommodating the demand.