Enrollments in computing-related undergraduate degree programs are booming, about to establish a new record in North America. There is also a growing demand for computing courses by students who are not computing majors. In the U.S., President Obama recently announced a new 4 billion initiative "to empower students with the computer science skills they need to thrive in a digital economy." Of course, this popularity does not come without costs. The growing size of computing degree programs is clearly stressing academic units and putting pressure on the quality of education provided to students.
As computing becomes more pervasive, we see increased demand from students eager to start a career in computing, and also from students in related disciplines recognizing the need for computer science skills. The result is increased overall enrollments--in some schools, by a factor of three in the past five years.a,b Higher enrollment leads to ballooning class sizes. Schools struggle to hire and retain faculty in the face of heavy courting by industry. The result is that a sense of resource scarcity dominates the high-pressure environment of large class sizes.
IBM is forming a new cognitive computing research center in partnership with the University of Illinois. Big Blue said Friday the planned Center for Cognitive Computing Systems Research (C3SR) will be housed within the College of Engineering on the University of Illinois Urbana campus. Set to open this summer, C3SR will work to build integrated cognitive computing systems modeled on IBM's Watson technology. The systems will ingest reams of data pertaining to college curriculum, including videos, lecture notes, homework, and textbooks. After reasoning through the vast datasets, the systems will eventually attempt to pass a college level exam.
There's a worldwide race to dominate quantum computing, and two new pieces of legislation might help the US claim the lead. Senator Kamala Harris has introduced the first, the Quantum Computing Research Act, to provide a "competitive edge" in development. It would create a Quantum Computing Research Consortium in the Department of Defense to coordinate progress, offer grants and oversee initiatives. The measure would boost the economy, create jobs and bolster national security, if you ask Harris. Gizmodo, meanwhile, has seen a second draft bill that would start a decade-long National Quantum Initiative Program to set priorities for developing the technology, including investments and partnerships.