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Elizabeth Oldham, Trinity College Dublin. Computing in the Irish School Curriculum: What Can We Learn from a Fifty-Year Adventure?

This presentation examines the development of computing courses in the Irish school curriculum over a period of some fifty years. It aims to highlight three aspects: the varying rationales (for example, educational or economic) driving the work at different times; the types of course that were proposed and (in some cases) implemented; and the successes and failures experienced along the way. The third aspect, in particular, may offer lessons for other countries seeking to implement computing courses in schools.

Elizabeth Oldham took degrees in mathematics, and then qualified as a secondary teacher and taught in a school in Dublin.  While undertaking a further degree – in education – she was appointed in 1973 to a lectureship in the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin. She stayed there until her (supposed) retirement in 2010, and is now an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Mathematics. Her main research has been in mathematics education, but she has also worked on computing and on the use of IT in teaching and learning, for example with the Association for Teacher Education in Europe and the Irish National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and as part of Trinity’s Centre for Research in IT in Education. She joined the Computers in Education Society of Ireland (CESI) soon after its foundation in 1973 and has served on its Executive for many years. Through her work with CESI, she has been a member of delegations to the state Department of Education, has helped to write CESI policy documents, and has supported projects that aim to encourage computing in schools.

Titus Winters, Principal Engineer at Google. The Gap Between Industry and CS Education

Industry practitioners and CS educators seem to operate in different worlds these days. My fellow industry leaders often have surprising ideas about what all can be covered in a 4 year degree program. We are seemingly unaware of the huge challenge in making novices into algorithmic thinkers and programmers, to say nothing of imparting mastery in the ever-expanding array of computing sub-disciplines. At the same time, the day-to-date operations in industry have a very different set of core skills and tools than what is traditionally presented in a CS curriculum. Communication skills, experimentation, reasoning, code comprehension, caching, threading, and concurrency models are a huge fraction of the toolkit for a software practitioner. Hashing is essential. Constants matter. Implementing data structures really doesn’t. In practical terms, almost nobody should be using a linked list anymore. This talk will surface what I see as the disconnects on both sides, and suggestions for what we can do about it. (I will also probably be wrong, since I can only speak from my perspective and experience – but that’s where important dialogues start.)

Titus is a Principal Engineer at Google, where he has worked since 2010. At Google, he is the library lead for Google’s C++ codebase: 250 million lines of code that will be edited by 12K distinct engineers in a month. He served several years as the chair of the subcommittee for the design of the C++ standard library. For the last 10 years, Titus and his teams have been organizing, maintaining, and evolving the foundational components of Google’s C++ codebase using modern automation and tooling. Along the way he has started several Google projects that are believed to be in the top 10 largest refactorings in human history.  That unique scale and perspective has informed all of his thinking on the care and feeding of software systems. He was the lead on the book “Software Engineering at Google” (aka “The Flamingo Book”),  published by O’Reilly in early 2020. 

Professor Letizia Jaccheri, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Gender Issues in Computer Science Research, Education and Society

Women are underrepresented in Computer Science disciplines at all levels, from undergraduate and graduate studies to participation and leadership in academia and industry. Increasing female representation in the field is a grand challenge for academics, policymakers, and society. [1]. The lack of women is among the core reasons for the huge skills and talent gap existing between the number of graduates in higher education institutions and the number of job positions available in the ICT Industry in Europe.

The main questions are: How to have more girls choosing computer science as their higher education studies and profession; How to retain female students and assure they finish their studies and start successful careers in the field; How to encourage more female Ph.D. and postdoctoral researchers to remain in the academic career and apply for professorships in computer science departments; How to support and inspire young women in their careers and help them to overcome the main hurdles that prevent women from reaching senior positions in industry and public sector. Which communication and dissemination strategy to adopt in this field.

The lecture presents statistics about female presence in education, research and industry. Moreover, it presents research issues from projects at NTNU and other from other international partners mainly in EUGAIN.

Letizia Jaccheri (PhD from Politecnico di Torino, Italy) is a Professor at the Department of Computer Science of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and adjunct professor at UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Jaccheri has been teaching courses in software engineering at various levels and acted as one of the independent directors of Reply S.p.A., the largest Italian IT company with 9059 employees. From 2013 to 2017 she was department head for the Computer Science department at NTNU. She is ACM Distinguished speaker. Jaccheri has plans to continue to contribute to address the issue of diversity in computer science.