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MS/Waterloo Curriculum Deal On Hold 254

Plummer writes "After announcing a recent deal with Microsoft that would see C# become a mandatory portion of first year electrical and computer engineering, the University of Waterloo has backed off and asked for a year to evaluate the proposal. The year will be used to evaluate the merits of the language and ensure that any curriculum changes made, will meet the standards UW engineering is known for. The full story here and here."
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MS/Waterloo Curriculum Deal On Hold

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  • The local newspaper [therecord.com] mentioned slashdot as a site complaining about the deal when it made front page in the locals. It might be worth double checking your spelling/grammar/intelligence before posting. :-)
  • so close. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 15, 2002 @03:59PM (#4261841)
    can we attribute slashdot to this reverse in policy wasnt this story run here and highly criticised. Could it be that while being a totally corrupt school waterloo is more interested in the real industry leaders (read slashdot readership) might think less of their graduates.

    Would this tarnished reputation (which this decision wont fix in itself) be worth a nice chunk of ms money? Could this be considered board mismanagement and the such.

    Every other academic institution that takes gates'ss's's money has always said it wont affect their product placement (least officially). So why waterloo.

    Ubc for example has been taking ms money for years and tons of it. But I dont see things like c# been taught exlcusively or linux being left out of essential training.

    Who on the board of waterloo was willing to sell the students out for a new building and a nice retirement package.
  • Floatsam (Score:2, Insightful)

    Too many languages. C#, C++, Object Oriented C, Java, Python, Perl, C, etc etc. Besides, why teach C# to students who don't understand the fundamentals of C?
    • Re:Floatsam (Score:4, Insightful)

      by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Sunday September 15, 2002 @04:10PM (#4261885) Homepage Journal
      Better to use a well understood language by the teachers, than introduce new students to a language the TAs haven't used before.
      Teach the concepts, not the language.
    • C# is nothing like C, it is much more like Java. And the students have to know C as well, C# would just be an addition to the curriculim. Why is this bad? As far as I'm concerned, the more languages the better.

      • Re:Floatsam (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 0x0d0a ( 568518 )
        Because it isn't an addition. It's replacing some other class that a student would take.

        Basically, Waterloo got caught with their pants down being bribed by MS -- nothing new -- but they didn't try to cover up or play it down, which is kind of impressive.
        • Wrong. Try doing some reading before blasting your moouth off. The new course would be an addition to the curriculm, it wasn't replacing anything. My university added Java to the curriculim to teach OO concepts years ago. Was this evil? No, because it wasn't Microsoft. Apparantly.
          • A student takes X credits a semester.

            I'm not saying they're removing an option -- they're making it so that some *other* elective that would have been taken isn't.
    • Honestly, "learning a language" as the goal of a course is a community college concept.

      Computer science teaches you things that extend FAR beyond learning language syntax. My last tough comp sci course involved no less than 4 different languages and we weren't "taught" any of them in the course - it was assumed we would learn the necessary syntax on our own. Lectures were focused on things like portability, performance issues, analysis of algorithms etc, concepts not tied to any once specific language. The languages used during the course simply allowed us to learn the underlying comp sci theory... Syntax is easy.

  • if I gave them $10 million dollars, and the one-paged introduction to Vokon (a reverse-polish-notation based self-cooked programming language by my friend in 1996), will they use it in their attempts to " help prepare high school students to enter the electrical and computer engineering program. "

    Like 42 42 * 42 + 1806 eq "that would be great" print

  • Darn!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by I Want GNU! ( 556631 ) on Sunday September 15, 2002 @04:04PM (#4261866) Homepage
    I wouldn't mind this so much, if not for the fact that tomorrow they were going to add a course in Jedi mythology as a requirement to the curriculum for religion majors.

    --George L.
  • ROFL (Score:2, Funny)

    Anyone see the embedded Windows .NET ad in the full story page of this article..?
    • Anyone see the embedded Windows .NET ad in the full story page of this article..?

      No. A line in my G:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc\hosts file redirects DoubleClick ad requests to a WinApache virtual host on my machine that puts up a PNG image reading "DoubleClick blocked." localhost goatse.cx www.goatse.cx comp-u-geek.net www.comp-u-geek.net ad.doubleclick.net

      No, I'm not trying to cheat OSDN out of ad revenue. That's actually the only ad site I currently block because 1. it gets rid of most of the Java and Flash ads and 2. it gets rid of a lot of potential privacy invasions.

  • So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sheepab ( 461960 )
    The more CS classes, the better I say, hell Id love to take that class. Why? My resume, I try to learn as many languages as possible. Well, ones that employers like most I mean. Suck it up, take the class, get it on your belt and add it to your resume. You'll become more skilled, and maybe even have a chance at getting a job in this economy...
    • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

      Isn't the point of being a CS major of being able to learn new languages quickly and on your own? Knowing the fundamentals behind the language should be more important than the syntax of that language.
      • Isn't the point of being a CS major of being able to learn new languages quickly and on your own?

        In theory, yes. In the real world, companies that aren't IBM want graduates that can hit the ground running and know the language in that shop.

        Or let me put it to you this way: if all other things being equal, your buddy knows the language that company X uses, or at least the language used in the hiring manager's project, your buddy gets the job and not you.

        These days companies that aren't IBM don't have the time to invest in you; they want what you learned in school to freshen up their older members' stale skills to help make their product work. Besides, you won't be there two years later anyway.

        Wake up and smell the Jolt.

        Been there, done that, didn't get the job either.

    • Note: please ignore my spelling errors....

      If a university wants to offer a course in C#, I'm cool with that. The problem is when they teach C# in place of another, more widely used language, like C or C++. University students don't know where they'll end up after graduation, so their skills need to be as broadly applicable as possible. Universities aren't doing their students any favors by limiting their student's educations to a language that only runs on the newest versions of a single platform.

      A program's core curriculum should be taught in a language that's well-established, widely used, and versatile, like C or C++. Languages like Java and C# should then be offered as possible second languages.
    • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SCHecklerX ( 229973 )
      WTF does learning a bunch of languages have to do with becoming an engineer or [computer] scientist?

      I always thought the purpose of attending college was to learn how to think, and express yourself to your peers and others. To create using the building blocks you learn. Learn a scripting language, a procedural language, and some OO stuff. That's all the computer language you need. The rest should be writing papers, creating useful designs, etc.

    • Employers are contemptuous towards resumes that list dozens of languages that the applicant claims to "know". The employer is skeptical that the person is truly experienced with all these languages, and also distrusts people who think programming is all about knowing syntax. If your list is truly over the top then the employer will rightfully discard the resume rather than risk hiring a big-mouthed know-it-all.

      Do yourself a favour and don't list every single piece of technology you've ever touched on your resume. That's what agencies are for. Your resume is meant to sell yourself as a person, not yourself as a reference library. List some problems you've worked on, some experiences you've had, mistakes you've made and how you coped with them, how you work in a team, etc.
  • by RomSteady ( 533144 ) on Sunday September 15, 2002 @04:11PM (#4261889) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot is celebrating that C# Programming isn't going to be taught, and yet nothing is said about Java Programming now being a required CS course in several universities.

    Whatever happened to keeping politics of all sorts out of school curriculum? I guess that went out the door when a Women's Studies course was instated at my local university, but a Men's Studies course was removed because it wasn't "politically correct."

    Oh, well. It could be worse. This could degenerate into some sort of Bourne Shell vs. Bourne Again Shell argument.

    • Slashdot Myopia? (Score:3, Informative)

      When I went to school we had whole labs of machines donated by Sun and Intel which no one protested about being out of the ordinary. Similarly there is at least one mandatory classes for CS majors [gatech.edu] which uses Sun Microsystem's proprietary progamming language [sun.com] and many optional classes as well require Java or strongly suggest it.

      Until Slashdot started trying to cause a controversy with the C#/University of Waterloo thing I had assumed this widespread practice in the American university system was taken for granted. Academia is all about politics especially when it comes to the curriculum, technical arguments for or against programming languages are just one slice of the cake. If it wasn't about politics we'd all be learning Lisp and Smalltalk in school instead of C++ and Java. OK, we actually did learn Scheme and Smalltalk at GA Tech so maybe that's a bad example. :)

      Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are mine and do not reflect the opinions, thoughts, strategies or plans of my employer.
      • by Floyd Turbo ( 84609 ) on Sunday September 15, 2002 @04:37PM (#4261975) Journal
        The problem isn't that a C# class would be offered, or even that a C# class would be part of the required curriculum.

        The problem is that the school agreed to make a C# class part of the required curriculum in return for money.

        Schools have no business selling access to their students' minds in this fashion.

        • Re:Slashdot Myopia? (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Dryth ( 544014 )

          Various Java courses are mandatory at my university. Our main *nix server is a SPARC running Solaris. There are Sun workstations peppered across campus. As such, I wouldn't be surprised if we have a deal with Sun.

          The same is true for IBM. In my mandatory OOP&D course, we're forced to sign an agreement put forth by IBM. This allows for free educational use of Smalltalk.

          I doubt it's a coincidence that we're taught UML (also mandatory), and find ourselves with a rather hefty donation (supposedly in the millions) from Rational.

          I've also been through mandatory classes for C and C++.... although I doubt bribery is involved.

          These are all classes I've taken. All mandatory at my school, and I'm only in second year. Who knows what the future holds?

          So what was your point again?

          Frankly, I don't find it hard to justify even the more underhanded deals considering the state of tuition fervor in Ontario universities. Thanks to deregulation, Computer Science and Computer Engineering students face unrestricted tuition increases in the near future, whereas various other science course, and the liberal arts, are provide some security. Over the past 10 years, tuition has supposedly increased by ~130%. If choosing a mandatory C# course over a mandatory Java course means saving the students money, I can't see why the option wouldn't be given strong consideration at the very least.

          • So what was your point again?

            In reading it, I thought the point was clear.

            Microsoft paid a university to change their curriculum. Sun did not. Sun never required Java to be taught. Sun never said you could only teach on their platform, etc. Microsoft not only piad to change what is taught, but to make sure it is only taught on Windows. (Article indicates Windows was a required part of the arrangement.)
        • Schools have no business selling access to their students' minds in this fashion.

          It sucks that academic institutions are increasingly becoming commercialised - whether this manifests as corporate sponsorship or downgrading their teaching standards to attract more fee-paying students.

          It's hard to see what other reason there would be to teach C#, beyond the chance of MS sponsorship. If purity of OO was required, Python or Ruby or Smalltalk 80 would demonstrate the principles admirably. If the need is to "give the kids skills they can use in the workplace", then Java or C++ would be a better choice.

          Nope, in this case, it was just the possibility of corporate money that drove the decision.

      • Java and C# are not the same thing. Seriously. C# is pushed by MS. Sure there is Mono, but you cannot actually build a real application with it. With Java I can build a real application from either Sun, IBM, Kafee, or other JVM's. And the Java from IBM is the same from Sun. However, Mono.NET is not Microsoft.NET. Mono.NET uses GTK# for its UI, whereas MS.NET uses Windows.Forms.

        I am not saying that C# or .NET is a bad thing. I actually like C# and things it is a great language. But C# is like VB which is like Delphi. Great environments and languages pushed by a single vendor. Java is like C++, which can be had from multiple vendors.
        • Ah but Sun owns Java and refuses to make it part of a standards body, whereas C# has been turned over to ECMA with all associated patents (something like 22 were moved into the ECMA body). This is a substantial difference.
          • Fair enough that C# has been turned over to the ECMA standards. But so was DHTML, Kerberos, CORBA, OODBMS, SQL, PASCAL, etc. And where did all that end up? Tons of systems that are not compatible.

            Just because it is standard, does not make it a working standard. Case in point is ODBC, which is not a "REAL" standard, but yet exists everywhere and works.

            Again, I am not saying C# is bad, I like C#. But C# is like Delphi, both are based on standards, but totally incompatible with the real standard. This does not take away from the usefulness of the language, simply the fact that Java will work across platforms and C# not.
          • by alext ( 29323 ) on Sunday September 15, 2002 @07:19PM (#4262641)
            Sun owns Java

            Sun owns the Java trademark, not the language/APIs/specifications, as I suspect you well know.

            The C# standard is of limited value because it is such a small part of Dotnet, and unlike Java, other vendors aren't producing Dotnet implementations.

            The difference is real diversity in the market vs. fig leaf endorsements.
      • Money-for-teaching deals are bad whether Microsoft or Sun does them. Did you report a story about any instances when Sun did this? If not, I don't see why you would complain about "Slashdot myopia".
      • The decision to use Java in the introductory classes had no direct influence from Sun. It was chosen it for the very reasons it is sucessful today: it is a reasonably well designed language, applicable to many problem domains, it is cross platform, free, available on every machine on campus, and a marketable skill for would-be graduates. Only the first applies to the language used previously: Turbo Pascal.

        Comparing Tech's incidental use of Java to to U. Waterloo selling out to Microsoft is absurd.
    • Whatever happened to keeping politics of all sorts out of school curriculum? I guess that went out the door when a Women's Studies course was instated at my local university, but a Men's Studies course was removed because it wasn't "politically correct."

      There will always be politics at universities, but politics between faculty is much better than the politics of companies coming in and trading cash for curriculum.

      The University is one of the last of the good places, where faculty generally try to put together a curriculum that they believe is in the best interests of the students. There are often violent disagreements, and some faculty just want to teach subjects because it's their favorite area, but in the end, it's just a big war of words with low-level university politics being as bad as it gets.

      But now, when you throw in multi-million dollar deals, the balance swings dangerously in the direction of a curriculum that is constructed to be in the best interests of a company, and not of the students. When you put up the beliefs of faculty against a multi-million-dollar behemoth, the faculty lose, they lose their spirit and dedication to the best interests of the students, and we all lose.

      The only winners will be rich companies who will be able to afford to convert universities to their own personal training academies.

    • Java is being taught because Object-Oriented design is an important thing to learn/use nowadays, it makes sense, and in many situations, it's Right. C++, however, is a kludge, not to mention only half-heartedly OO. Java is the most sensible thing to teach at this point. It's not politics, it's just life, get over it.

    • Slashdot is celebrating that C# Programming isn't going to be taught, and yet nothing is said about Java Programming now being a required CS course in several universities.

      I don't care about either of them.

      ANYTHING that stops them teaching Pascal is a plus. :-)
    • You misunderstand the cause for celebration. It's the fact that C# will no longer be required. AFAIK, it will still be available as an option.

      You're right about Java, though. I think there ought to be an either/or option. Those students that want Java can take Java. Those that want C# can take C#. Those that want the third approved language choice can take the third choice.

      The thing here is choice. Microsoft was trying to tilt the scales with their money, and the school backed off as soon as they saw the effects this would have had. It's true that you can't keep politics out of school curriculum. The best you can hope for is to stem the tide.
  • Why would any college seriously take the opinions of an online community like slashdot despite its tech readership? Decisions like this are made because of an outcry from faculty and staff, not public opinion and certaintly not student opinions.

    Yet it is good to hear a nice heartwarming story about Microsoft losing an account (for the time being).

    Baby steps people, baby steps.
    • I think that the University is really being honest about wanting to evaluate the language more to see if it really will meet their curriculum needs. All comparisons being made right now can pretty much be put into the category of religious wars between C#, Java, C++ and whatever else. Regardless of whether it is better or not, Java has been around for a while and has been written about, analyzed and put through the paces over and over again. C# hasn't to the same extent. There isn't the same body of experiential knowledge out there to definitivly comment on the advantages and disadvantages yet. C# may very well be a better choice for what they want to do, but taking time to look a little closer and gather more data is certainly a prudent decision.

  • uw's ways? (Score:2, Interesting)

    (disclaimer -- i'm currently a Waterloo computer science student)

    It seemed as though UW just hoped that this could go through without anyone really doing much. I mean, with a deal like this, having MS 'donate' $10M to the, wouldn't you want it to happen in front of all the students?
    Of course not. You do it at the time when there are the least amount of people on campus (and practically no students), right before the fall term, after summer exams are over. The only reason I had heard of it beforehand was a sign on an 8x11 piece of paper when I came here to bring my sister to an interview.

    But it didn't go unnoticed. It took up most of the space in the Imprint (UW's student-run newspaper) and a lot of talk among students. The University just ended up looking like a fool and having to retract to 'think' about what its doing.

    But how many people think this will change the final outcome anyway?

    • > ...wouldn't you want it to happen in front of all the students? Of course not. You do it at the time when there are the least amount of people on campus (and practically no students), right before the fall term, after summer exams are over.

      For those who have never been to college, be aware that universities are notorious for announcing and implementing all manner of policy changes at that time. My alma did it to me several times.

  • Bring Back Pascal! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wantedman ( 577548 ) on Sunday September 15, 2002 @04:28PM (#4261937) Homepage Journal
    The problem with C, C++, C#, Java, and a load of other languages that people are being taught is THIS:

    You cannot master the language in one semester!

    Yes, you can learn the funtimentals, and techinqually, you can learn good programming structures through selective function teaching(i.e. glossing over Goto), but the complexites for most languages prevent mastery of them in only 4 months.

    Pascal is B&D, it prevents bad coding techniques by elimating commands that call them. It breaks programmign down to its roots, and with its limited functionality, forces students to plan their code before coding it.

    With these features, I'm unsure why people insist on using an industral tool to teach someone basics. I feel like I'm giving students a motorcycle without first giving them a two wheel bike, ahh /rant off

    (note: all posts to "Why pascal is not my favorite language" will be concidered ~='s)
    • by cpeterso ( 19082 ) on Sunday September 15, 2002 @06:17PM (#4262384) Homepage

      I second the other posters that the first programming langauges taught should be Scheme AND assembly language (though I would probably recommend MIPS instead of x86). I have heard that Berkeley does exactly this. First semester you learn Scheme. Second semester you learn assembly langauge. If you can survive/master those two languages, then all other languges will simply fall somewhere in between on the spectrum of programming langauges.
    • You cannot master the language in one semester!

      Any CS or EE curriculum that aims at teaching mastery of a language is not worth taking anyway. To the degree that CS or EE should teach programming at all, it should teach general principles of programming, not the idiosyncracies of specific languages.

      I agree with you that "industrial" languages like Java, C#, C, or C++ are particularly bad choices for introductory teaching. If they are used in advanced courses, that's because the libraries and support to teach the subject matter only exists in them, not to teach those languages per se. Pascal actually still isn't a bad choice for teaching, although I think Scheme and a few others are probably better. The fact that they are commercially irrelevant is an advantage as far as I'm concerned.

    • Better than Pascal - Modula-2! The language is still very simple, but allows separate compilation. Students that learn Modula-2 won't need to move to another language as they become more advanced. It's been 13 years since I touched Modula-2 and I still miss it.
  • by Taylor_Durden ( 605279 ) <SlashdotTylerDurden@hotmail.com> on Sunday September 15, 2002 @04:30PM (#4261944) Homepage
    4 years from now a bunch of grads will be heading to interviews...

    Grad: "I know C#! Hire me!"
    Industry: "C#. Check. What else do you know?"
    Grad: "Huh? Like what?"
    Industry: "Well, what did you learn in some of your other courses?
    Grad: "I know how to design a web page so that it only works under Internet Explorer."
    Industry: "Hmm..okaaaay. What type of degree did you say you have again?"
    Grad: "I have a copy right here..."
    Industry: "That says MCSE. That's not a diploma."
    Grad: "No, it is. There's some fine print at the bottom. See?"
  • by m3573 ( 595099 ) on Sunday September 15, 2002 @04:31PM (#4261950) Journal

    The record.com article: If the changes don't go ahead, the $561,000 Microsoft was giving to support the projects would no longer be available, he said.

    The 80s: people usually had to pay for programming languages.

    The 90s: programming languages and environment available for free (evolution).

    The New Millennium: people get paid to use a specific programming language (involution... well, this is /. about MS...EVILution?)

  • by CyberGarp ( 242942 ) <(Shawn) (at) (Garbett.org)> on Sunday September 15, 2002 @04:35PM (#4261964) Homepage

    When my Freshman year professor in the CS AP class was asked the question, "What language are we going to learn in this class?"

    To which he quickly replied, "Any monkey can buy a book and learn a language, what's important is the concepts behind programming. To ask what language your going to learn is to miss the point. If our university focused on teaching a language then we would not be properly teaching our students.

    Then my senior year, there was a class we had where every assignment was in a new obscure languages and we were expected to adapt rapidly.

    The problem in reality is that most resumes are reviewed for language experience and not conceptual areas. To get a job you need XXX years of language XXX. What a stupid way to hire people, but it's the system and I play the game for a check.

    C# is for the Flying Code Monkeys!

    • The problem in reality is that most resumes are reviewed for language experience and not conceptual areas.

      I sort of agree with your sentiment that a learning a particular language is trivial once one learns the concepts of software engineering.

      To become an expert in a language though, is a non-trivial task. In the real world, it is very important to have a good amount of experience in a particular language. Simply knowing certain design patterns is not enough because each language has it's own traits that affect which patterns should be used.

      From a software engineering standpoint, a project should be architected in two completely different ways depending on whether its being implemented in Java or C++. Why? Each language allows for a different degree of object orientedness.
    • Disclaimer: Like some of the other readers / posters, I'm a UW CS student.

      I agree that experience in language XXX is a primary criterion in screening resumes.

      It's important to point out that most UW students are in a co-operative program where they are looking for their first jobs immediately following their first year or even their first semester! In fact, Engineers (for whom this controversy developed) are required to be in co-op. The languages taught in first year classes have a direct bearing on students' suitability as job candidates.

      When I started at UW, first year CS students were taught using Pascal running on Windows and then moved to Modula-3 (haha) on Unix. On the other hand, first year Engineering students learned using C++ on Windows.

      I found the use of Pascal and Modula-3 nearly crippling in the entry level co-op job market as most employers and the most desirable positions often required C++ experience. If not C++, then Java.

      Fortunately for the freshmen CS job hunters, CS now uses Java and C++ to start off with.

      As far as I can tell, most serious development is still carried out in C++. It's efficient, powerful (though perhaps too loose), and sufficiently portable if you're careful. I think the switch to C# could be detrimental to the Engineers if it is used at UW before it gains widespread industry acceptance. Whether it is ever adopted by industry is another matter.

      Another thing worth mentioning is that (Computer) Engineering students at UW already have a strong Microsoft bias. Their development experience is typically using MS Visual Studio on MS Windows. So I don't think the switch to C# from MS style C++ is a big philosophical issue.

      The CS Department (now the "School of CS") in the Math Faculty has always had a strong Unix bias. We usually use gnu tools on Solaris. CS at UW still has a "Go Unix, down with Evil Empire!" attitude.

      Although I agree that CS concepts are not language dependent, the job market sure is! It doesn't hurt to have a variety of language experience, but C# is a poor choice for students' early job prospects. But I'll let the Engineers battle that one out!

      I'm open to correction or criticism. The above is just my take on matters.

  • by Erris ( 531066 ) on Sunday September 15, 2002 @04:49PM (#4262051) Homepage Journal
    From the UWstudent.org site [uwstudent.org]:

    At a forum organized by EngSoc, UW President Johnston said that mistakes were made in the announcement of a partnership with Microsoft Canada Co. "In retrospect, it was a mistake to announce an agreement in principle with respect to the curriculum initiatives, a mistake for which I take responsibility."...
    Johnston described what will happen in the coming weeks. "What we will have to do over the next few weeks is ensure that the [sic] necessary for any curriculum change occurs, and that those committees, and, ultimately, the Senate that oversees them, are satisfied that the principles that we always must observe when external funding is involved in anything are followed in this case."

    That looks like a few weeks, not a year, and it sounds like he wants a rubber stamp:

    The MS-UW deal will be talked about at Monday's meeting of Senate, the the university's highest academic body. In early September, the President of UW's faculty association requested a "full airing" of the issue at Senate.

    Additionally, MS Candada President Frank Clegg was specific [uwstudent.org] about what the deal means to all 300 incoming freshmen:

    The Microsoft Canada Co. sponsorship does require C# to be taught on a platform based on the Windows® operating system.

    Replacing C++ for C# in freshmen courses should be worth the entire reputation of the school, far more than $5,000,000. My reputation is worth more than that!

  • by thelexx ( 237096 ) on Sunday September 15, 2002 @05:03PM (#4262100)
    Java is already proven and adopted industry-wide. C# is not. MS is being called out for attempting to gain a bit of de facto acceptance by the old 'indoctrinate the youth' ploy. All those saying, 'what's wrong with more languages being taught', I say, go invent a language and see if you can get it taught as a required course a year later at any university.

  • The last time I cheked JAVA is downlodable for free from Sun [slashdot.org] Why do they need to get paid by some corporation to teach a closed essentailly proprietay language built by a company only for their own financial gain in the long term. I have no problem with universities teaching languages such as JAVA,c#, etc. This is the way of the future - in 10, 20 years no one will have the patience to deal with plain old C or languages like it. (Hmm, umm, yea..nobody uses old languages like cobol anymore! ;) But when universitys are essentially being bribed to become high level certification courses for some companies products we are moving away from what CS is supposed to be teaching you - general techniques that will be applicable throughout your lifetime as a computer professional versus what immediate professional skills will be applicable when you graduate.
  • by rocjoe71 ( 545053 ) on Sunday September 15, 2002 @05:07PM (#4262116) Homepage
    Every other academic institution that takes gates'ss's's money...

    The fact of the matter is for every UW student that goes to work for Bill, his/her education was in part subsidized by the government of Canada... Therefore, the Canadian taxpayer has been indirectly subsidizing Micro$oft for years, and it's about time Gates started anteing up for the cost of developing some of his future employees!

    • Does Microsoft Canada Co. pay taxes? (Okay, if they're anything like Microsoft US they probably find interesting ways not to...)

      Do employees of Microsoft Canada pay taxes on their salary? Congratulations, the tax system is working as it is supposed to, and Microsoft Canada is putting money back into the government.

      You want to force endowments and charitable giving to a place or thing not of the giver's choice, and you are no longer doing charity. You are doing taxes and just calling them something else. At least be honest.
  • by Wizri ( 518731 ) on Sunday September 15, 2002 @05:31PM (#4262199)
    Look I've been on campus while this shit-storm has happened and there were two major camps of students.

    1: Don't care...
    2: No way that I'm going to sit here and not bitch.

    My real point is there were very few supporters for this deal, the campus news papers have put negative spin on it, students that understood the deal tried to inform others and so on.

    By most this was seen as a step for Microsoft to enter the very Unix domenated computer education cirriculam. Start with one-two courses... then is a 2-3 years own 'em all

    I'm really glad that this deal began to show its cracks.

    After this 2-4 of coke, and the next 2-4 of coke I only have one 2-4 of coke left. Better buy more.
  • Texas A&M (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mighty_Tuna ( 529756 )
    I'm glad to hear of a university expressing reservations of a deal with MS. Texas A&M (my beloved school) has just made a large (subscription based, I might add) licensing deal with MS for several pieces of software. Looks like Gates is trying to make our generation as dependant on his products as the previous one is.
  • Who started this? (Score:4, Informative)

    by khendron ( 225184 ) on Sunday September 15, 2002 @05:45PM (#4262251) Homepage
    I am seeing posts along the lines of "Waterloo has finally seen MS's dark side", or "Victory over Greed" etc etc...

    But if you read another story on the same page (MS Canada President Frank Clegg responds to top ten questions [uwstudent.org]), Clegg states quite frankly that it was Waterloo who first proposed the idea of C# as a teaching language. So this initiative did not come from MS.
    • ... Clegg states quite frankly that it was Waterloo who first proposed the idea of C# as a teaching language. So this initiative did not come from MS.
      And of course, everything that a Microsoft PR flak says must be true :-)

      I have been corresponding with some Waterloo faculty (I am a UW alum) and learned that the University Administration sprang it on the departments as a surprise, without consulting with the curriculum committees. Computer Science [uwaterloo.ca] (in the Math Faculty [uwaterloo.ca]) was adroit enough to avoid getting caught in this meat grinder, but ECE [uwaterloo.ca] (part of the Engineering Faculty [uwaterloo.ca]) was not so lucky, and had this agreement announced on top of them.

      So whether it came from Microsoft or not, it did not come from the faculty, and thus was fundamentally motivated by money.

      Crispin, U.Waterloo BMath/CS class of 1988
      Crispin Cowan, Ph.D.
      Chief Scientist, WireX Communications, Inc. [wirex.com]
      Immunix: [immunix.org] Security Hardened Linux Distribution
      Available for purchase [wirex.com]

  • My thoughts (Score:4, Informative)

    by forgoil ( 104808 ) on Sunday September 15, 2002 @06:00PM (#4262311) Homepage
    First of all, I have written a little software in C# and a lot more in Java. C# is a great language in its class and very useful indeed. If you hate it because of M$ say that, but don't say it is a bad language.

    That taken care of, I agree with some of the posters saying that it is the concepts that are important. But I also belive that if the concepts to be understood you also have to understand what is behind it all, which includes how a CPU works, how a compiler works, how an interpred language work, and how OO really works.

    I think that one should walk this tree with asm, C, BASIC, Ruby, C++/Java/C#, in parallell with the rest of the courses. Try to connect it, for example asm/C with real time and OS courses, while you have ruby for the OO courses.

    What language is used should be controlled by the need, not by the industry. Ruby is a great example of an easy to use interpreted language, but also a great example of a language that is VERY object oriented. You get the point without having to figure out other unrelated concepts. Everything really is an object (5.times {|n| print n} for example).

    To top off the education it is time for the industry strength languages. C++ is an incredibly powerful language for a number of reasons, but is also very complex and huge in all its quirks. C# and Java would also be good languages to teach now, and to be used as well.

    I also want to point out that the choices I have made above when it comes to languages is influenced by what languages I use myself. There are many other excellent languages, so if you like to just exchange your favorite languages to what I have written above ;)
    • Re:My thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

      by spitzak ( 4019 )
      Though there is nothing really wrong with the design of the C# language itself, there are a few weird MicroSoftisms in even the basic design that lead me to think they are up to no good:

      The most obvious one is the special-quoted strings with no escapes. Those were obviously put in there so that people would stop typing forward slashes into filenames. There is a huge contingent of people who think you have to #ifdef every filename to make code portable between Windows and Unix, and the more that people think this the better for MicroSoft, because it discourages people writing portable code. In fact all Windows calls take forward slashes and I strongly encourage anybody writing code for Windows to use forward slashes at every moment possible so that they have no temptation to break this.

      This language was not designed as a "better Java". The people told to make it got a chance to put in their ideas for a "better Java" so there is some good stuff there. But they were also ordered to make this a lock-into-Windows language and this is scary.

  • This is good, if not for any other reason than the fact that the current Microsoft C# compiler is a step backwards in terms of error reporting technology. The compiler FREQUENTLY reports the wrong, or completely non-existent (and unrealated) errors. You forget a ; or a " somewhere, and you're getting errors everywhere BUT the spot where the error actually occurred.

    You can NOT teach first year programming students with such a tool PERIOD.

    I've said it before, I'm sure I'll say it again:

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=38000&cid=40 73 859


  • It seems that the president of UW didn't actually sign anything, despite all appearances to the contrary. viz:

    "In retrospect, it was a mistake to announce agreement in principle with respect to the curriculum initiatives, a mistake for which I take the responsibility." (my emphasis)

    You might call it "good news" although I think at best it's a Pyrrhic victory [shu.ac.uk]. The damage done to UW's reputation -- unnecessarily as it turns out -- is going to take more fixing than just another slashdot article. We got stomped on, and justifiably.

    Fortunately the forum was streamed and recorded by the student government, the Feds [www.feds.ca], and you can listen to it by downloading the mp3 [mp3.feds.ca] (29 MB). Although we might take down UW's internet connection ;-)

    I'm hosting a group project [simonwoodside.com] to transcribe the recording. Please help! It contains the president's apology but also some interesting information about C# as well.

    UW CS Alum
    simonwoodside.com [simonwoodside.com]

    PS. The School of Computer Science rejected the deal before the original announcement. This is all concerned with Computer Engineering, not CS.
  • I've seen this kind of "hidden agenda" crap lots of times. The University of Waterloo is not reversing its position.

    UW President Johnston started taking heat so he backed up a bit. If he's like the self serving assholes I've had to deal with, he'll put it on hold while he has a fair **cough, cough** study and then declair that a deal with Microsoft is indeed in the best intrest of everyone.

    I've seen it all before. Nothing to look at here... Move along. Move along...
  • I thought this [uwstudent.org] was interesting. In particular. It gives MS's response to the "top ten questions" (does not seem to say whose top ten questions.

    I thought these two points were VERY telling:

    Q1) Since Microsoft, presumably, is simply encouraging the learning of ECMA standard C#, it should not matter whether the OS platform of the students is something other than Windows if another compliant C# platform exists and costs or other reasons U of W might have for using it make it attractive. Can Mr. Clegg assure U of W that Microsoft will not invalidate the agreement, or withdraw funding if C# is taught using Ximian Mono on Linux?

    Frank Clegg (president of MS Canada): "The Microsoft Canada Co. sponsorship does require C# to be taught on a platform based on the Windows® operating system."

    And question 6, which seems to me to concern academic freedom:

    Q6: Your donation to the University of Waterloo in part funds curriculum development for ECE 050 and a curriculum change in ECE 150. As the curriculum change for ECE 150 did not require a change to course description it was not vetted through the Faculty Council or through the Senate Undergraduate Committee. This means that it affects the part of the curriculum usually understood to be the jurisdiction of the faculty member. Will Microsoft still provide UW with its donation if the professor for ECE 150 chooses to follow the course description without teaching C#? If it will not, how does Microsoft feel about compromising academic freedom at the university?

    Frank Clegg: Funding for this curriculum initiative was decided based on the university's exploration of possibilities for sponsorship in the preparation of new curriculum material on C#. If the university decides not to teach C#, then there will not be a need to create any corresponding new material for which funding was initially allocated.

    I hope the University gives these considerations due attention in their deliberations.

  • I'm sorry for those who don't agree, but IMHO high level professionals (those formed by top universities) should be able to learn Java, C#, or whatever other language by themselves.

    All you need to know is a good academic language, like C ou Java, not necessarily one these, to give the students good basis. Afeter a language learned the most important thing is focus in Computer Theory and Mathematics.

    Extension courses are welcome, but each student should choose whick course to do, which technology to learn. No obligation.

    What amazes me more, is seeing top universities students ignores the programming quality of the unix world, and ignoring the possibilities of learning avaiable in the FreeSoftware comunity.

    There are things that really makes me sad.

  • Why is all the best coders I know started with assembly but no univerisy would ever consider that as CS101?

    Take a look at Engineering requirements. You have to take classes that won't have anything to do with your field but are part of the generic requirements. These classes will be used to weed out freshmen if they have too many and they get real easy if they need more students. For example good old "statics and strengths" for EE. I took that one at two different schools. One was tring to weed out EEs and that class was very hard while the other school needed EE's and the class was trivial. Its an odd feeling to wonder if your going to even pass a class that uses the same textbook as a different school where you got an A the semester before.

    So of EE/CS departments are so willing to weed out students, why not make CS 101 in Assembly? That way you know the poeple who get through the 1st semester have some understanding of what the hardware is doing.
  • I'm about to send a letter to my alumni association cc'ed to President Johnson threatening to with draw my yearly alumni support. I would suggest all alumni do the same.

    The concerns I'm listing are:

    The outright purchase of student mindshare is abhorent and cheapens my alma mater (and my degree :-)

    C# is a new, developing language that is pretty much stolen from Java had has little technically to offer the freely available (and established) Java environments, which Waterloo is already using.

    Microsoft is a convicted monopolist and universities, especially engineering universities have an obligation to not extend and embrace that monopoly.

    Waterloo's reputation was sold so very cheaply.

    Not sure what difference it will make but I'll feel better ...

  • Did /.

    A - Overreact to rumor
    B - Actually get some heat on Waterloo that made them reconsider
    C - Have absolutely no impact on this at all
    D - CowboyNeal makes really good asparagus omlettes

Wishing without work is like fishing without bait. -- Frank Tyger