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Change the system for their sake

May 23, 2011

Now that the pun is over(my previous post) :P-let’s continue. While I was writing my previous post, I thought about the entire system of computer science, specially first year and realized it definitely isn’t perfect. Here’s what I think should be done to change it.

Chuck out mechanics, physics and chemistry from the syllabus.

Show me one soul who remembers all this at the end of the four years and I’ll be happy to change my opinion. I don’t care who says what-learning useless stuff, which will be of no use in future is of no use. Least learn something which would come in handy in future even if you forget it. Who the hell cares about trusses and load bearing points eh? I sure don’t. And once people are in the services industry, nobody will ask you all this.

Science Electives

I am not getting into this argument-who even cares about these eh? Useless stuff which everyone memorized and poured it out in the answer paper to pass. POINTLESS!!

Material Science/Mechanical Science

The latter is a new subject which is basically intended to substitute thermodynamics. Who cares about all this-nobody remembers or cares how an Air Conditioner or Refrigerator works or anything. If I wanted to, I’d have taken Mechanical Engineering which deals with such stuff! I’m not a complete no brain okay! And material science? Oh please-who cares! I didn’t understand anything in the subject at all! I can’t even say what the subject is about!

Of course everyone has two things to say in retaliation to these(more please let me know and I’ll look into it)

  1. What about students who have given higher option and hope to change groups at the end of second year?Of course this doesn’t apply to Physics/Chemistry we learn-quantum mechanics is scarcely used in any field when introducing it. Everybody prefers to avoid it! Material/Mechanical science and science electives come in second year at which point they are useless to most degrees. Besides, even though 20 people in a class exercise this option, only 1 or 2 get it! Personally, I know everyone in my class exercised this option but only 3 left! The rest 63 learnt the other subjects for no use and got arrears in them for no reason-waste of energy of students, teachers and institution as well as money.
  2. What if it comes in use in future?This is a classic question which bowls most people I think. Here’s my question-What do you do if you forget some concept at some point of time? You refer and learn again!!! It’s impossible to learn everything in four years’ time! So best thing to do is to learn what would definitely come in use in future such as our core courses! Instead of giving a small piece of info about everything, give a thorough training about few things and make them rock solid! That’s the best you can do to a student!

Now there’ll still be people who will still be in denial with all these ideas(I say grow up people to them!). But here’s an elegant solution I propose to you: electives in first year. There will be people who will want to switch after first year and only a handful will make it. So, making it optional, those not interested can opt for subjects which they don’t want and be happy. Here’s a small peek at the subject list.

  1. English: Stress upon this and make it effective. People in our class still find basic communication tough-go back to the basics for such people!
  2. Math 101: Vector Calculus. Yeah this is important. No arguments here.
  3. Mechanics/Basic Math course or introduce another language or something: This is an ideal choice-those who don’t want mechanical engineering can opt for the other course which makes life easy for many people.
  4. Physics/Chemistry: BANNED! Please don’t have these courses; instead offer Discrete Mathematics from second year. That’s a real good choice.
  5. Electronics: This is important for CS. No arguments here.
  6. Electrical/Basic Math or something: We will never need most concepts learnt in Electrical engineering. Of course few concepts are borrowed in electronics from electrical but hey they’re just minor stuff which could be covered in a few classes surely.
  7. Engineering Drawing: BANNED! What a useless subject!!!! The teachers were crap, the idea was crap and everything about this was crap! I have no use for this subject anymore-all I learnt was CADian software(which is proprietary BTW) and I can learn that software anytime with a good book and a good guide!

My first year subjects were

  1. Physics: Theory and lab
  2. MA 101
  3. Electrical: Theory and lab
  4. English: 1 & 2(2 being an elective)
  5. Computer Programming: Theory and lab
  6. Engineering Drawing 1 & 2
  7. Thermodynamics(no longer offered)
  8. Chemistry: Theory and lab
  9. Electronics
  10. OOP: Theory and lab
  11. MA 102
  12. Mechanics: Theory and lab

After a few changes, we have

  1. MA 101
  2. English 1 & 2 which emphasis on developing confidence and fluency of each and every student.
  3. Computer Programming using Python: Theory and lab
  4. Electronics
  5. OOP using Python: Theory and lab
  6. MA 102
  7. Mechanics/Basic subject such as Discrete Mathematics
  8. Electrical/Basic subject such as Number Theory

That’s four subjects per semester! Students adapt to the whole environment of a college and the system as well! Awesome! In case more need to be added, here’s a suggestion that will definitely help.

  1. Introducing open source tools!By this I don’t mean hard core programming. Hell no! There are simpler tasks that they can do such as creating blogs, websites etc. This motivates them to learn on their own and experiment-an important skill for CS students. Plus, this can develop later into something they could strongly contribute to in future and make their resumes impressive. Else, they can do some small translation/documentation tasks which itself would increase their learning definitely.

Five subjects are more than sufficient. Plus proper training could be given to the students to train them towards contests such as ACM, various summer of code programs, internships, training for interviews for major companies such as Microsoft, Directi, Google etc. Most companies complain that the quality of students is bad. Agreed it is. But where does the college give us time or guidance in order to actually improve our selves and stop from being mediocre?

It’s always the case that most shy away from the problem. But, it’s time to put a solution to the entire problem! I hope more would be interested in changing the system for good. It is definitely high time we do so.

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