[svlug] (forw) Linux at Work

Steve Litt slitt at troubleshooters.com
Thu Jan 29 08:20:15 PST 2015

On Thu, 29 Jan 2015 00:06:51 -0800
Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:

> Quoting Scott DuBois (rhcom.linux at gmail.com):
> > Being 'exposed' to something or taking a class in it doesn't mean
> > after class I would want to touch it again. Someone else makes the
> > curriculum based on whatever criteria they use, supposedly what the
> > industry wants. However, the industry is constantly complaining
> > that students are coming out of the schools not knowing the things
> > that employers _want_ them to know; so where is the disconnect?
> Yeah, dunno.  All I can say is that there's been a major disconnect
> between academic computing (in most places) and real computing as long
> as I can remember.  And, most firms in my experience, your academic
> credentials being in computer fields really isn't worth much to hiring
> managers.

I have nothing but great things to say about my programming education
at Santa Monica Community College, 1983-1987 (not a degree, I was just
taking classes for twenty bucks a class). IIRC they offered only
Pascal, Cobol and Basic (I dropped Basic, three classes were too much
for a guy who worked full time). It would be years before they offered
C. So yes, there was a disconnect. BUT...

Santa Monica College taught me (and everyone else in the class who
would listen) all about modular programing. About the evils of global
variables (in Pascal, obviously not in Cobol). About the process of
functional decomposition. Those of us who were listening in class
entered the industry knowing how to translate a problem domain into a
program FAST.

By 1986 I was a senior level programmer, and my boss OKed my getting an
assistant if I got him cheap, so I placed an ad for an entry level
programmer, and got 700 responses. Anyway, many were UCLA Comp Sci

My interview consisted of a few minutes of bidirectional question and
answer, followed by the following test:

"In *pseudocode*, write me a program that takes file A, turns
everything to upper case, and writes it to file B. You'll have 1/2 hour
to do it."

All the UCLA grads failed horribly. Hadn't a clue. They told me they
could write me a compiler, but they'd never been asked to do anything
like what I asked them to do. 

I called a few of the better Santa Monica College students I knew who
were still in Santa Monica College. Every one of them either completed
the test correctly, or were well on their way when the 30 minute bell
went off.

So it wasn't just me.

I've always been grateful for the tremendous career education Santa
Monica Community College gave me, even though it was hard to bust into
industry without C knowledge. Because the mindset, tactics and process
of programming are a heck of a lot more important than a specific


Steve Litt                *  http://www.troubleshooters.com/
Troubleshooting Training  *  Human Performance

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