Whether the skills are suitable or not is beside the point. THE more important factor is not as much those skills themselves but what it took to get them: DISCIPLINE and the ability to WORK HARD to do the practice even when it felt BORING. With that, if the skills they have are not adequate, they can LEARN the skills they need. Discipline is a skill that we should build our culture around instilling. It shouldn't be limited to a few "whizzes" - it should be the standard. Whatever our talents may be, programming or not, they cannot be realized without that fundamental skill. So I would see nothing wrong with hiring them.
(This from a person who lacked the DISCIPLINE to develop mad coding skills during his youth years despite having perhaps as many as 21 of them to do it in (depending on if you count to the present or to the realization) and only realized the crushing implication of that in the past few years and just recently realized the value of DISCIPLINE.)
I think we shouldn't be trying to terraform Mars anyways until we've first ruled out the possibility of the existence of any native life. Evidence keeps coming in that makes the odds look better and better there may be something there, yet we have nothing to be able to say conclusively and decisively one way or the other. I think we should get that out of the way first.
If we don't, and there was life and we destroyed it, well, for one, is that moral? Even if it's only simple organisms, is it right to just blow them away? Especially we want to claim to care about, say, life here on Earth. What kinds of attitudes would we be putting out into the universe that might get us into trouble in the more distant future when maybe we could actually travel somewhere else with real, intelligent life? More "tangibly", we would be doing science a HUGE disservice by destroying an example of a second natural biosphere, something which would be of enormous scientific value in its own right to study.
The ruthless ideology of exploitation is what created a lot of the problems we have right here on Earth. Why should we continue it?
So I think we should get that down first. If there is life, we should try to find a way to preserve it. That may mean sacrificing terraforming, or even colonization at all, although I'd imagine that if we actually worked on understanding that life once we found it, we might be able to figure out a way to live on the planet without also denying it life.
And even evidence of past life could be vulnerable. In that case it's not so much a moral issue as an issue of scientific value. I think we need a prudent approach to Mars. I don't think we shouldn't go; I just think we need prudence and a measured plan.
Personally, I think the nukes should be used to resurrect Project Orion and send a manned mission to the Jupiter or Saturn system, or even further to Pluto or even Eris. THAT would be awesome.
Algol-60 surely must be regarded as the most important programming language yet developed. -- T. Cheatham