Archive for April 13, 2012
Our Dean at the Georgia Tech College of Computing has sent this to all of the faculty, urging us to sign the petition. I don’t know anything about the politics of CISE and ECE at Florida, but this is a significant development in the history of computing education and the trend toward shutting down CS departments.
A message from Prof. Sartaj Sahni.
The CISE (Computer and Information Science Department) at the University of Florida needs your help in its struggle to survive . In a nutshell, our Dean has decided to use the pretext of a budget cut to dismantle the department, something (actually, uniting CISE and ECE) she has been trying to do for the past 3 years but was unable to do because she couldn’t get the required votes. Now, she claims that with budget cuts, she doesn’t need anyone’s support.Given this history, it should be clear that the dismantling is purely retribution for not voting in favor of her earlier plan to unite ECE and CISE. Please see the information below for more details.
Please help by signing the petition (http://saveufcise.wordpress.com/) and in any other way possible (e.g., email the UF firstname.lastname@example.org pointing out the value/need for CS grads especially PhDs). Please inform your friends and ask them to do the same and spread the word. Keep in mind that if this dismantling is successful here, it could be tried by other Deans at other universities. Your department could be next!
The Dean of the College of Engineering, Dr. Cammy Abernathy fired three staff members today, jumpstarting a plan to remove all research and graduate programs from Computer Information Science and Engineering Department (CISE).
If the University is targeting a department as profitable as CISE, with such high employment prospects (Bureau of Labor Statistics<http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm#tab-6>), which attracts great economic growth to the Gainesville area (http://bit.ly/Ii1fjF), who knows which department will be next.
The GAU believes these actions establish a dangerous precedent of radical department cuts that impacts all Graduate Students, Faculty, and Staff.
Plan of Action:
1. Today, April 12th at 11:30AM: Join the protest at the Reitz Union Colonnade http://www.facebook.com/events/423610120998036/
2. Today, April 12th at 2:00PM: Come to the Faculty Senate Meeting at McKnight Brain Institute Auditorium
3. Sign this petition http://saveufcise.wordpress.com/
4. Follow us on twitter: @SaveUFCISE
The Dean of the College of Engineering, Dr. Cammy Abernathy, announced today that she will eliminate all research, graduate programs, and TAs from the Computer and Information Science Department (CISE). Amazingly, she is targeting a department that brings in 17% of the College of Engineering’s revenue at only 10% of the College’s cost.
CISE Teaching Assistantships will be eliminated. The CISE department will continue as a teaching-only department without teaching assistants. All CISE Graduate Assistants, who expected to receive a software degree, will be forced to move to a computer hardware department (Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, ECE). Some CISE professors, handpicked by the Dean, will be moved to one of three unrelated departments (BME, ISE, ECE). This will drastically affect Graduate Assistants’ financial status and career prospects.
The Nuclear Engineering Department was eliminated last year with similar tactics.
The University of Florida has other cuts on the table: http://bit.ly/HtruDH
Because of my recent posts on teaching with Logo and the culture of older programming languages, I’ve been poking around the Logo sites. My most enjoyable find has been the Logo Books page of the Logo Foundation. Remember that it was always part of Seymour Papert’s vision that Logo would be used across the curriculum, not just to teach programming. There was a rich collection of books written to support that vision.
- There were books written to teach discrete mathematics and algebra with Logo.
- E. Paul Goldenberg’s book on linguistics in Logo was wonderfully inventive. One of my favorite exercises: Grab text in each of French, Russian, and English. Now, replace all vowels with “_”. Can you tell which language is which? Then, there are variations, like replacing all consonants with “_”. The point is to get students to think about what characterizes a language.
- Of course, Turtle Geometry is a terrific book, connecting physics, mathematics, and biology . I’ve read the first few chapters, and skimmed other chapters, but I’d have to build up my math chops to finish it. The book finishes with non-Euclidean geometry and Einstein’s general theory of relativity, with turtles.
- I was pleased to see that LogoWorks is actually available in its entirety . Though the book is written for Atari Logo, much of it can be modified for more modern Logo implementations. The chapter on music was my favorite, with code for transposing music and doing ear training.
Probably the greatest treat for me was finding that all three of Brian Harvey’s Computer Science Logo Style books are available on-line for personal use. I have all three volumes in their first edition, and was pleased to see the second edition here. This is such a fun series of books. For example, Volume 2 includes a Basic compiler, and a version of Doctor (think “Eliza”) which is based on Brian’s access to the original source code. Just as we ask questions today like, “Does learning Scratch help you learn Java/C++/Python later?” there was the question years ago, “Does Logo help you learn Pascal later?” Or in other words, “Is the mental model that one develops with Logo helpful in understanding Pascal?” Brian’s Volume 3 kind of addresses that — by building a Pascal parser and compiler, complete with virtual machine! All of this in Logo — in fact, it will all run in the free, cross-platform Berkeley Logo that Brian has made available.
When I told my PhD student, Briana Morrison, about my explorations, she asked, “Why aren’t any of the CS:Principles pilot classes using Logo?” It’s a great question. Logo fell out of favor because researchers were unconvinced learning Logo led to higher-order thinking skills. But that’s not what we ask of computer science classes any more. We want students to learn computer science, and we want that computing integrated into other learning — a form of literacy. Logo is a powerful, Lisp-like language that was explicitly designed to be easy for students to learn. There are lots of resources available for using Logo across the curriculum. Why aren’t we? Is it merely because it’s “out of fashion”? Are we so swayed by what professional software developers think is fringe or “not real” that we will discount a great idea just because it is thirty years old? In other disciplines, foundational ideas are studied and built upon. Why do we ignore ours?