Over the next decade, the number of computing jobs in the U.S. is projected to grow by nearly 1.4 million. Yet the number of computing students is only projected to reach 400,000.
That leaves a jobs gap of close to 1 million, according to code.org, a computer science education non-profit. With the average computing salary at $80,000, it is also a gap of close to $450 billion. Why are there more jobs than students? Most K-12 schools don’t offer computer programing classes. In 72 percent of U.S. states, computer science classes do not count towards high school graduation requirements. Without early engagement in computing, students — especially minorities and women — often transition into college thinking that computer science belongs to the realm of geeky, awkward guys, hunched over computers in a dim basement office.
Talk to real computer scientists, however, and you’ll realize that’s far from the truth.
"I get to do and learn things freely," says Rosalind Picard of the MIT Media Lab. “It’s this enormous freedom to just explore and go where your mind wants to go.”
This week, scientists, teachers and advocates across the country are celebrating Computer Science Education Week, which highlights the importance of computer science in America’s education system. The National Science Foundation has long been a supporter of computer science education, through programs like the CS-10K Project, which aims to install high school computing curriculum in 10,000 schools, and The Games Network, which allows students to create their own educational computer games.
Learn more about NSF’s computing efforts through the Computer Information Science and Engineering Directorate, or check out this video featuring some of America’s top computer scientists discussing their field. And:
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NSF is highlighting statistics from NSF-funded research in celebration of the 2013 International Year of Statistics. Look for them weekly on Tumblr.
Photo credit: Georgia Computes!, Georgia Tech; Two girls at a 2011 summer camp for rising 4th-6th graders use a LEGO kit to make a top spinner.