UVSC BYU U of U etc was"Software Engineering

Levi Pearson levi at cold.org
Tue Feb 20 12:50:17 MST 2007

"Hill, Greg" <grhill at corp.untd.com> writes:
> It's not an endorsement, unless it's an endorsement of the fact that
> people no longer understand the difference between a trade school and a
> University.  I never faulted the people for getting what they want,
> anyway.  I just said it was a waste of money (i.e. I consider it a waste
> of money, not the people who got what they wanted).  

I don't understand how it could be considered a waste of money.  These
people desired a certain kind of education, they paid the money to get
it, and then they got it.  Trade schools aren't free, either, and it
ought to have been pretty clear to them that UVSC is not (yet) a
university.  There's clearly a spectrum between specialized trade
schools and pure liberal arts universities, and UVSC is somewhere in
the middle.  I don't think that fact is lost on the people who choose
to go there.

> Anyway, I'm glad to hear that it's gotten better.  I will no longer
> think so poorly of UVSC.  Oh, and for the sake of understanding, I never
> said BYU was great.  This thread is the first I've heard of people
> lauding their CS program.  I just said the point of University was to
> learn theory.  If BYU better fits that goal, then I think their program
> is superior.  Going to University to learn coding would be like going to
> University to learn carpentry instead of architecture.  Sure, you could
> do it, but you'd be better off going to a trade school or teaching
> yourself.

Technically, the distinction that a University has is that it grants
post-graduate degrees.  'Theory' doesn't come into the picture,
especially at the undergraduate level.  Thus we have schools like MIT,
which has an excellent CS program, but strives to be grounded in
practical applications.  Theory is taught in order to enable students
to better create things.  Other universities will focus more on
theory, depending on the particular interests of the faculty and the
vision of the department.

If you were speaking more traditionally about universities, the idea
was not to get 'theory', but to get a well-rounded education and to
learn to think and learn on one's own.  We're a long way from that
ideal at most schools, but UVSC has general-ed requirements for its
4-year degrees just like any other 4-year school.

Anyway, as big a proponent of CS theory as I am, I think there's also
great value in CS practice, and the two often intertwine to the extent
that learning one without the other will leave one with a
significantly weaker skill set unless one is planning to go into a
pure-theory research field like quantum computing or complexity
analysis.  Quite a few Ph.D theses require implementation of ideas,
and a student is far better served with solid theory AND coding skills
than with one or the other.


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