Posted on | March 29, 2010 | 5 Comments
I’ve been having a very interesting discussion with a California CS professor. I happened to catch one of his students red handed putting their homework out for bid on a freelance programmer service. The irony is, the assignment was so simple that a quick search on any search engine would yield over twenty ways to accomplish it. What programmer can’t teach a cursor to navigate a simple maze? This is more code golf than actual work and it was worth $50 to one student to get out of it.
It seems to me that more and more CS students are in it for the money that a degree will earn them, not because they love to solve problems. Anyone that had any experience in nearly any language prior to entering a university could have solved this assignment. Anyone who loved to program would have seen the opportunity to demonstrate their cleverness. This is stuff that most good programmers do in their spare time anyway. Yet, this kid was ready to pay fifty bucks to be rid of the responsibility yet reap the reward. When employed, will the kid just broker their work to outsourcing companies? Lets look at a hypothetical interview:
Interviewer: “Ah, I see you have a CS degree!” Interviewee: “Yes, I outsourced all of my homework and coursework and passed with flying colors. It was more expensive, but I was able to plan my own start up, acquire eleven patents and gained real experience in project management and economics. I now speak four languages and continue to employ a small staff that handles most of by busywork” Interviewer: “Yes, we have an opening for you. You applied for programmer, perhaps we should be considering you for project manager. You do have a NDA with the guys you use, right?”
That is scary on so many levels only because its actually likely to happen. I fired up the RSS crawlers, grabbed some available database dumps (mostly from Stack Overflow) and affirmed my theory. I’m going to confirm it, then publish it, I’m actually irritated enough to write a white paper. I hate white papers.