For the past two years Winter quarter has brought incredible levels of stress. Not only do I teach an extra half class every Winter, but I also have tons of preparation for the SIGCSE Symposium which happens in the late Winter each year. But occasionally something will drag me out of my work haze, and yesterday that something was a CRA report on the latest computer science enrollment boom. Titled Generation CS, the report summary starts:

Across the United States and Canada, universities and colleges are facing a significant increase in enrollment in both undergraduate computer science (CS) courses and programs. The current enrollment surge has exceeded previous CS booms, and there is a general sense that the current growth in enrollment is substantially different than that of the mid-1980s and late 1990s.

I have to start by admitting that I haven’t read the whole report, although I certainly plan to as soon as Winter quarter ends. But the authors have done a great job in breaking things up so that you can dive into the pieces that interest you. And there were two of them.

First, it appears that non-major enrollment is CS is booming. They provide a lot more details in the relevant section, but in short, in every level of course except for the upper-level courses, non-major enrollment growth is outpacing growth in enrollment by majors. This is much different than in previous booms. For those of us who are convinced that there is real innovation to be done by people in other disciplines who know something significant about computing, this is exciting and welcome news.

Second, the worries that many have had that another boom would result in yet more drops in diversity in computing isn’t without merit. The report states:

The CRA Enrollment Survey shows that the percentage of women has grown in all three of the CS major courses surveyed from 2005 to 2015 for both doctoral-granting and non-doctoral granting units.

But the growth in underrepresented students isn’t uniform, and it lags in some places, for example in upper-level courses for women and in certain institutions for minorities. I think we need to all stay cognizant of the idea that approaches to handle this boom need to be constructed to not negatively impact underrepresented groups.

There is much more there, of course, and I haven’t even adequately summarized the two sections that I mentioned. So you should definitely read the whole thing. I know I will as soon as Winter quarter loosens its grip on me.

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