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A New Kind of CS Major

Let me preface this blog post by admitting that I do not have a computer science degree. I majored in community & regional planning. I started out as a fine art major. I tended to avoid mathematics because I found it horribly boring and as a result difficult. I have however, been programming since I got a Texas Instruments 99/4A when I was in 3rd grade.

The programming world has been preoccupied with CS vs programmers the last week. I wanted to weigh in on an important point that I don’t think has been made.

Almost anyone can write working software.

Some people can write very efficient software (you can easily make the case that CS helps with this.)

In the world of business programming the most desirable trait for code is that it reads well and that other HUMANS can understand it and work with it. A very elegant, program that can solve abstract problems doesn’t mean anything if other programmers can’t grok how to use it. Once more, code that is easy to understand and read is often also efficient and working.

If I were to create a new major for programmers I think I would put it in the business school. Not with engineering or mathematics. It would center on how to communicate (with humans) through code. How to work with a business to determine requirements. How to make money. It would have required courses in TDD, BDD, CI, agile processes, graphic design, speech communications, and yes, a lot of CS. Most importantly it would have lots of labs where students must make working programs together.

I have been hiring programmers for over 10 years. My impression of recent CS grads is that they have only 1/3rd of the skills I really want. I do think a CS degree is a great start to a career in IT but we really need the universities to give us something a little different.