Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes Sets Out to Bridge the Computer Science Education Gap

Many a tech company will tell you that hiring qualified engineers is their biggest challenge.


But maybe the problem is that there aren’t enough qualified engineers, because there aren’t enough people studying computer science in the United States, because not enough schools teach it.

That’s the premise of Hadi Partovi’s nonprofit, for which he has enlisted the support of people like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Drew Houston and Miami Heat player Chris Bosh, who studied computer science before getting paid to play basketball for a living.

Partovi was previously a long-term Microsoft exec as well as a VP at TellMe and a founder of music startup iLike. He has made savvy early investments in companies like Facebook, Dropbox and Opower.

So what exactly will Partovi do to improve the state of computer science education? That’s actually unclear. “We can’t solve this unless people realize it is a problem,” Partovi said last week.

The first step is a star-studded short film with endorsements from a range of role models about the value of computer programming. “There’s nothing I’ve worked on that’s been more easy to convince people of,” Partovi said.

Here’s a five-minute version:

After first getting the word out and posting resources for teachers, Partovi said, his next steps will be getting more deeply involved in computer science education.


And here is Partovi’s slate of stats to try to help people realize the extent of the problem he’s trying to solve:

  • 41 out of 50 states don’t recognize computer science as counting toward math or science graduation credit. It’s just an elective.
  • 9 out of 10 schools don’t even teach computer programming (more if you count middle school or elementary), and that number is declining.
  • Only 2 percent of students graduate with computer science degrees.
  • There are 1.4 million computing jobs in the U.S. over the next decade, and schools are on track for only 400,000 graduates. The difference is 1 million jobs, or $500 billion.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work