UVSC BYU U of U etc was"Software Engineering (was Re: Java)

Hans Fugal hans at fugal.net
Fri Feb 16 08:53:08 MST 2007

On Fri, 16 Feb 2007 at 02:13 -0700, Scott Paul Robertson wrote:
> They still take CS as a Science. If you want server administration you
> go to the IT department.

BYU has a good CS program. BYU's CS deptartment is not a great vocational
programming program, and there's no reason it should be. If you're
interested in getting up to speed so you can go be a code monkey for the
rest of your life, BYU CS is not the place to do it.

If you're interested in a good university education in Computer
_Science_, which is at least as much theory as coding practice, BYU is
pretty good. If you're interested in Software Engineering, BYU is better
than some but probably not the best (at least wasn't, maybe the changes
spr mentions will affect that). 

If you're interested in Computer Science graduate school, it seems to me
that BYU is an excellent choice. I have often found that what
I learned at school has little bearing on the knowledge or experience I
need for a job. I made/make most of my money doing system administration
(thank UUG and PLUG), VOIP (thank Jared Smith), web programming (if this
was a focus at BYU CS I would almost certainly have majored in music),
and C programming (C?  what's that? We teach Pascal/Java/<insert
industry favorite teaching language here>).  But my preparation for
graduate school, which based on my experience here at NMSU is nothing
short of "very well prepared", traces back strongly to my BYU time.
Undergraduate research, a strong focus on theory, lots of coding (yes,
you code a lot at BYU. I'm surprised at how little actual code people at
other schools write. That doesn't mean you learn to code _well_ per se,
but you do do a lot of coding), and at least in my experience the
professors were willing to let you go your own way if you had a good
idea and a dose of passion (excellent preparation for research
activities). I also attribute some of my preparation to what was then a
disadvantage - my tendency to go off on tangents and do cool things just
for the heck of it, regardless of what the assignment actually asked

Incidentally I consider the department here to be of good quality. We're
smaller than BYU's department, and the student body is perhaps more
uniform in level (you get all kinds from moderately intelligent to
brilliant at BYU, which is fairly unique). The dept. here is focused on
Linux/UNIX which suits me fine, we have some outstanding faculty (_the_
expert on graph theory was faculty here until he passed away a couple of
years ago), and it was rated far above BYU CS in one of those silly
magazine ratings when I was looking at graduate schools. 

I can't speak as to whether BYU prepares you well for CMU, MIT,
Stanford, Princeton, Berkeley, etc. But for NMSU and similar schools
you're sitting pretty if you did well at BYU.

In summary, I've seen a lot of good coders at/from BYU. I've seen some
pretty lousy ones too. I've seen some people good at theory, I've seen
some people lousy at theory. If you want a good theoretical background
with a lot of coding practice (but perhaps not enough guidance, though
the changes may affect that), BYU is a place.

Hans Fugal ; http://hans.fugal.net
There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the 
right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
    -- Johann Sebastian Bach
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