Northface ‘University’

There are some articles popping up on news sites about Northface University, a new computer science school in the States, that’s heavily backed by corporate sponsors (not that most schools aren’t). You pay $60000, do a CS degree in two and a half years and get a bunch of certifications. I equate it with a diploma mill or maybe a nerd mill. Yeah, they’re going to pound out good corporate citizens that have tons Microsoft and IBM training, but they won’t be well-rounded.

Meanwhile, my school has been heading in the other direction, trying to give their computer science students a more balanced education. I was one of the first to get a redundant sounding degree, that I can see them renaming: Bachelor of Computing, Subject of Specialization Computing. It’s essentially the same program as the old B.Sc but they require at least 5.0 credits to be in courses other than Math or Stats and 1.5 of those credits in the humanities.

One of the big things that people are starting to realize is that computing is everywhere now. It’s not just mathematical theory and producing hardware. Almost everyone in a modern environment uses some form of computing at home and work every day. And they’re not all dorks. What may seem like a simple and intuitive interface to the programmer is not for the end-user. Computer Science should act as a technological bridge between Arts and Science; their needs to be programmers with backgrounds in fields like biology, chemistry, economics, english, and fine arts, that help produce intuitive software.

The world needs hardcore dorks like the ones Northface will produce. But we’ll also need computer scientists who understand people as well machines, so we can stave off a citizen’s revolt against computers and technology.