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Enrollment in U of A computer science major on the rise

Enrollment in U of A computer science major on the rise

CREATED Mar 5, 2013

Reporter: Justin Schecker

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - They're the rock stars of computer science. At least that's how one University of Arizona Ph.D student describes Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, two of the people featured in a new viral video trying to inspire the next generation of computer programmers.

The U of A's computer science department shared this video on its homepage under the heading, "Why Learn Computer Science?"
 
Many computer science students wanted to share their passion for their chosen field with 9 On Your Side.
 
Ashley Matthews didn't enroll in the U of A's computer science program until her junior year.  
 
"I thought I wasn't smart enough, but the truth is, you're learning how to problem solve and it's a process," Matthews said. "It's about the experience and it's about getting through it."  
 
Matthews tells 9 On Your Side watching the video produced by Code.org, in which prominent programmers share their stories, reaffirms she made the right choice. 
 
"I'm very glad I added this," she said.
 
More and more students are adding the computer science major, senior academic advisor Holly Brown told 9 on Your Side. She says the department has tried to increase minority and female enrollment. 
 
While many universities like the U of A embrace computer science, Brown said some middle and high schools lag behind.     
 
"Our undergraduate students will go to local high schools and middle schools and give presentations about computer science," Brown said. "So we're hoping that at least in some small way, we're helping introduce kids at younger ages."
 
Junior Livio De La Cruz said he hopes the video, and its star power of N.B.A. player Chris Bosh and Black Eyed Peas front man Will.i.am, will motivate more students to learn how to program computers.  
 
"There's a lot of bad stigma around it, like people think that only nerds go into computer science," De La Cruz said, "but it's a really fascinating field."
 
For Matthews and fourth-year Ph.D student Kate Kharitonova, the Code.org video means a lot because it negates another stereotype.    
 
"I'm also in this field to change the stigma that there are not enough girls in computer science," Kharitonova said. "I'm one of them and I'm pretty happy."