By Corbin Briske, Staff Writer
A year and a half ago, the University of Maine and Educate Maine launched Project > Login, an initiative to entice prospective students to double the number of computer and technology related jobs, and support them throughout their studies. The University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) is one of these schools to benefit from the initiative, however many students are unaware of what the degrees entail and the benefits of majoring in those fields.
Currently, the knowledge of Computer Science and other technology related majors at UMF is limited by the general student body. Students of these programs realize the gap that exists between them and the other students.
Rylan Cates, a Computer Science major and senior at UMF, expressed his views on the matter. “It seems like people who aren’t very exposed to computer science view it as magic, and almost don’t understand through desiring not to,” said Cates, shaking his head with a look a disappointment. “I think that it comes down to a split between people who are tech enthusiasts and people who aren’t.”
Information technology professionals from around the state of Maine met with students from UMF at the end of February in a social gathering to discuss Project > Login and it what it planned to achieve. The main goals of the initiative are to gain is increased enrollment, improved retention of students and internships for students to gain real world experience before graduating.
The issue that holds Computer Science back from the attention it needs is due to its intimidating terminology.
Alana Knapp, a junior and New Media major at UMF, expressed her confusion with the program. “To be completely honest, I am not sure what computer science is,” said Knapp laughing nervously after coming to that realization. “I think the field has a sort of inaccessible connotation that makes people feel like they wouldn’t understand even if they tried.”
Project > Login is the University of Maine’s solution to the matter at hand, but there are also larger initiatives to inform students of the technological degrees at a national level.
Big name technology influences such as Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg came together to create a website called www.code.org to spread the word about the shortage of computer programmers and how it is easier to learn than most people think.
According to the website, only 1 out of 10 schools offer programming classes and there are 400,000 students that will major in Computer Science and find computer jobs, but 1.4 million computer jobs will be unaccounted for by 2020.
With these statistics at hand, Computer Science students are confident in their career path, but realize that there needs to be more of an emphasis on the program within the universities as well.
Cates agrees with the aforementioned statement. “[Computer Science, should have] a simple, to the point explanation of what Computer Science is,” said Cates,” and the diverse career paths it offers, as well as a solid and welcoming intro class that empowers people and makes them feel like this is something they are capable of pursuing.”
Project > Login may not solve this problem with the University of Maine system right away, but many students think it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
Those interested in finding out more about Computer Science at UMF can visit Ricker in room 114 during Symposium Day to learn from student’s databases systems presentations or can visit www.projectlogin.com and www.code.org to learn and support the national initiative to make computer programming a larger part of the education systems in the United States.