When one speaks of talent, the field of computer science is considered to be a mixed blessing.

Whereas, the number of students specializing in computer science has been on increase in recent years, the number of lectors who are required to teach them has sharply declined. We have the following grim picture: talents who would make a successful career in teaching are instead working on a private business or on their own, attracted by possible beneficial cooperation, stock options and even some extra advantages given to them because of their jobs.

It is clear and unsurprising that talents who are ready to realize their potential are drawn by money, but the direct effect on tech industry is similar to a farmer harvesting his corn, so as you sow, so shall you reap. The fewer people are in this field, the more talents flow into various nation tech companies.

What should universities and schools do?

Situation Is Getting Worse

We have asked Eric Roberts, Stanford university professor of computer science in retirement, how the things are going on. According to him, among five available positions in CS faculty only one is occupied. He has helped to conduct a recent research that examines the current shortage in comparison with recent times when the faculty hiring was insufficient.

He says: “Even there, at Stanford, the disproportion between teachers and students has become so acute that only 2% of CS department are teaching 20% of students of all the CS specialties”. Even lectures, who have been less considered over late, are now more important and treated really well.

Such pressure resulted in unprofitable workdays for many faculty professors, who might be paid twice for comparable hours and demands if they obtain posts in some technical companies. And it is hardly possible that the situation will change soon. In fact, it takes 5 years to make up a new Ph.D majoring in CS, and such universities as Stanford are deluged with thoughts about creating more faculties now.

Is there a way out or possible solution to tackle the problem? Yes, one of them includes a program that allows Ph. Ds to take a computer science training program lasting for one year. This will give them a master’s degree. With this degree they will be able to teach computer science to students, Roberts clarifies, and will create greater prospects for their tenure. He also adds: “Universities are in constant need of people willing to teach. They are tied up together. We cannot solve this problem with the help of the market”.

Resisting the adversity

Dr. Moore, the dean of the CS school at CMU (Carnegie Mellon University), says that he is going to do the utmost of it by resisting the adversity. Now private business is thirsting for employing specialists in CS, and professors are keen on earning more than their usual academic salary.

To notice, Mr. Moore’s words about schools being unable to resist this situation are based on his experience. In fact, he changed university for his eight-year term at Google. He started as a manager in one Pittsburgh company and ended with a VP position for engineering at Google.

To resist the adversity, Mr. Moore suggests that CS specialists should take a leave of absence to try themselves in private industry. Once he has done the same. Fortunately, CMU university can regulate its enrollment by matching the number of new students with the faculty. “It is not a right solution to lessen the program”, he says.

The university also employs professors in advance: Instead of waiting for a vacant faculty positions, they try to employ specialists to keep a 5-10 percent surplus. Thank to this the directing office fills vacant positions created when professors go around the back to private business.

But another problem comes then: to bring faculty members back to academic work. According to Mr. Moore, there is a somewhat higher goal that makes them return; if the academies want to tackle the problem, to “resist the adversity”, they should create a favorable environment and to meet the required needs of a person. If a talent wants to work on a serious matter, for example, on a cancer treatment, let them do it. ‘This is a more important thing than money”, Mr. Moore says.

Money Isn’t Everything

In academic circles, we see the following picture: the number of supernumeraries is much higher than the number of full-time teachers (1.3 million versus approximately 500 thousand per profession); as for computer science, about 10% of PhD graduates occupy supernumerary posts, and about 60 percent go to private industries.

However, even with these accessible supernumerary positions, it can be difficult for colleges to find enough people to teach actually. Dr. Craig Wills, who heads the computer science department at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), has made a research to realize how many institutions faced such hiring problems. Among 155 respondents who answered the survey, “about 40% of schools informed that they were far from being successful,” says Wills. (He takes “less successful” for “unable to make full all vacant posts”.

“Supernumerary jobs are the most valuable thing that any institution possesses,” says Mr. Wills. The shortage of teachers exacerbates the student professional journey. Graduates go to work on private industries, not to graduate schools, which further depletes personnel reserve for CS teachers.

Speaking about Mr. Moore’s case, Mr. Wills proposes that the possibility to research and explore will persuade professors to keep their positions: “Specifically, on such positions as supernumeraries where there is more freedom to do what you personally want, not your company”.

WPI is longing for “Ph.Ds in industry who are willing to go back to the academia,” Mr. Wills says. What’s more, we should consider the future: Even if the technical industry (and the economy as well) are flourishing now, any economic downturn can push tech professionals back to relatively steady academia: “These positions are more persistent in the long term.” he says.

As for schools, another line of action is to increase the class size, however, such efforts demand for supplementary teaching assistants for laboratory work, testing, and working time. Besides, creating a pipeline for hiring teachers and assistants can take quite a lot of time (and money), which often makes it difficult for the professors and deans to plan and negotiate.

Even though the economic turndowns of 2000 and 2008 contributed to employment of computer faculty, the schools can’t wait on another downturn; school managers should be more active to find new professors today, or they risk to repeat mistakes of the past (1980s in particular, when colleges and universities had to shortage CS enrollment due to absence of convenient faculty). This is the worst ending that the tech industry can have, so they need to gather talents as many as they can.

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