Paul Penfield, Jr., "Are These Trends Permanent?," NEEDHA Annual Meeting, Kahuku, HI; March 16, 1998.

Are these Trends Permanent?

MIT logo  . .

Paul Penfield, Jr.

Professor of Electrical Engineering

Head, Department of Electrical
   Engineering and Computer Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

(617) 253-4601

Increasing Interest in Computer Engineering and Computer Science

Many of us are noticing this trend

Sometimes accompanied by less interest in EE

Questions for this session:
 . . Is this trend widespread?
 . . Is this trend permanent?
 . . Is this trend felt similarly by different types of departments?
 . . How should we cope with it?

I will try to address the first two questions

Other speakers will address the third
 . . School of Engineering (e.g., Dartmouth)
 . . Department of EECS (e.g., Berkeley)
 . . Department of ECE (e.g., CMU)
 . . Department of EE (e.g., Stanford)

All of us will have to deal with the last

MIT Actual Data

Interest in Computer Science is [insert your word here]

Interest in CS is rising sharply

Is This Trend Widespread?

The Plural of "Anecdote" is "Data"
 . . Here is some Data, from NEEDHA members

Informal survey of NEEDHA members, March 1998
 . . 300 universities surveyed
 . . 42 responses

Typical % of total students in CE, CS, or some combination
 . . Recently rising; now between 50% and 80%

EE enrollment
 . . 19 down, 7 flat, 5 up
CE enrollment
 . . 0 down, 3 flat, 28 up, 4 new programs
CS enrollment
 . . 1 down, 4 flat, 18 up

Is This Trend Permanent?

Fundamental Reasons for this Trend

 . . Change in Society
 . .  . . Computation, information, communication more pervasive
 . .  . . Enabled by predictable advances in microelectronics
 . .  . . Fueled by exciting "killer apps" (e.g., spreadsheet, DTP, Web)
 . . Booming job market
 . .  . . At all levels: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral
 . . Student choice of a career in computing is rational

EE, CE, and CS are all changing rapidly

 . . Increasing power of hardware, software, networks
 . . Decreasing cost of computation, electronics
 . . Boundary among these technologies is rapidly changing
 . . Students have to optimize designs across these boundaries

Are EE, CE, and CS really distinct disciplines?

 . . Or are they specialties within one discipline?


Preferentially hire CE and CS faculty
 . . A lot of junior faculty cannot decide if they are EE or CS

Prepare faculty for cross-teaching

Add new degree programs

Increase Teaching Assistants

One final note -- a quote from my survey:
 . . In talking with students, some stated that our strong 3 course CS intro sequence, taught by excellent teachers, seduced them into the CS track. To address this, we are ...

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