Desmond File

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Pushing the Science

A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft took a moment to help support computer science studies and achievement. On Dec. 4, Microsoft Research Cambridge and the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory hosted the Think Computer Science! event, which featured talks, demos and interactive sessions for 250 grade-school students from 19 schools. The goal: to help motivate students to pursue studies and careers in computer science.

A day later, Microsoft hosted scholars, researchers and programmers from Europe, as part of a program that awards scholarships to European students entering Ph.D. studies. Currently, Microsoft Research sponsors 56 students, with as many as 25 scholarships to be awarded in 2007.

The effort to bolster computer science studies is sorely needed. According to a study cited by the Computer Research Association, the percentage of incoming undergraduates in the U.S. who planned to major in computer science plummeted between 2000 and 2005, by a staggering 70 percent. No surprise, the number of graduating students with computer science degrees has taken a hit, following years of steady gains. Between academic year 2003-2004 and academic year 2004-2005, the number of total CS degrees granted fell by 17 percent. We can expect those losses to mount.

"One of our goals is to inspire and educate the scientists of tomorrow," said Andrew Herbert, managing director of Microsoft Research Cambridge. "Through events such as the Think Computer Science! Lectures, in partnership with the University of Cambridge, and the European Ph.D. scholarships and fellowships that we're announcing to support the top students and scientists in Europe, we aim to help fuel future discovery and ensure that Europe continues its heritage of scientific and technological innovation."

What is your experience? Are you concerned about the building developer brain drain? Have you noticed any change in the number and talent of your programmers entering the field? E-mail me at

Posted by Michael Desmond on 12/20/2006 at 1:15 PM

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