Computer-related technology is increasingly driving the U.S. economy. But computer science education is on the decline, according to a report released this fall.
"Some states and some schools are offering some really excellent courses," said Carnegie Mellon University's Mark Stehlik. "But overall, the picture is pretty bleak."
Rather than teaching deeper concepts like computational problem-solving, most schools focus on teaching students how to use a computer and available applications.
CMU is leading a number of programs to improve literacy of these deeper computer science concepts.
Among them is Fostering Innovation through Robotics Exploration (FIRE), a federally funded initiative leveraging robotics and computer animation to increase interest in computer science among middle and high school students.
The university makes Alice, a software environment that uses computer animation to introduce students to programming concepts, available for download free of charge.
CMU is also leading an international consortium funded through the HP Catalyst Initiative, to develop new ways of measuring student competency in STEM.
David S. Touretzky, research professor of computer science, is a founder and co-principal investigator of Advancing Robotics Technology for Societal Impact (ARTSI), a National Science Foundation-supported program to increase the number of African-Americans pursuing computer science careers.
The report — published by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Computer Science Teachers Association — is particularly timely. Educators are hosting Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 5-11, which focuses on the critical role of computer science in preparing students for 21st century careers.
CMU is hosting Computer Science Education Day today.