ITC initiative sparks demand for more CS curriculum at Boise State
One of the great things about Idaho’s software community is the level of collaboration that takes place between businesses, entrepreneurs, and universities. One key example is the Idaho Technology Council’s CS Extras program, an industry-led education initiative designed to educate and motivate Idaho’s technology students. Because of this program, I was able to communicate an urgent need for Boise State to create an opportunity for students to learn about web development—a key skill for future software professionals.
Last year, at the ITC CS Extras BBQ on the Keynetics back patio, I got into a discussion with my former graduate adviser Amit Jain. We talked about the lack of web development courses at the Boise State CS department because they do not have an expert in web development to teach the class and how the ITC can help fill that gap.
Many software-related job openings in the Treasure Valley are for web development. Keynetics current focus is on e-commerce fraud prevention. “Web developer” is one of our most difficult positions to fill. This trend is common throughout the Treasure Valley. We prefer to hire locally but occasionally must bring in talent from out-of-state. To help increase the quantity and quality of software professionals grown organically, ITC Extras are taught by local industry volunteers who love to teach and want to spark potential local talent to fill the need. It’s an investment in the future, led by dedicated volunteers who see the value in educating new software professionals.
Based on this demand for web developers, Amit suggested adding an elective course to the CS curriculum, and asked if I would be available to teach. I said yes, which led to the class “Introduction to Web Development” being added to the CS curriculum for Fall 2012. Fifteen students have already enrolled, though I anticipate more. It’s a good step, and ITC got the ball rolling. One of the students told me why he enrolled in the class:
“I’ve been learning basic web development skills in my spare time because BSU hasn’t offered this elective in previous semesters. I am hoping that taking this class would focus my attention to the topics that web development companies are looking for in interns and potential hires.”
This is the course description:
PRE-REQUISITE: COMPSCI 342
TITLE: Introduction to Web Development
The addition of this class is only one example that highlights the importance of collaboration between the tech industry and institutions of higher education. ITC’s CS Extras Program will help students make a smooth transition into software professionals that contribute to building Idaho’s tech ecosystem.
If you’d like more information on CS Extras or would like to volunteer and make a difference in Idaho’s software community, please visit our Facebook Page at http://tinyurl.com/csextras.
Conrad was born in Ontario, Oregon and raised on his family’s dairy farm. At age 13, he started tinkering with QBasic. In 2005 he graduated from BYU-Idaho with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science and later Boise State with a Master’s in Computer Science. Currently, Conrad is married with three small children and employed as a software developer at Keynetics Inc in downtown Boise.