News Update :: Tuesday, December 5, 2006

News

Pick-a-Prof G'es Social; Adds API Link to Faceboook

Pick-a-Prof, a Web site that permits students to check a professor’s grading history, last week announced it had added a social layer by integrating Facebook’s application programming interface into its site. The move enables members of Facebook, the largest college social Web site, to log in and find friends who have signed up for the same classes.

Pick-a-Prof aims to offer tools to help students make decisions about courses, classes, and professors, including a class scheduler, a book exchange that integrates listings from online bookstores, and the feature to check professors’ grading histories. It was able to obtain the grade data directly from official school records after taking the fight to court to get data from Californian universities. They’ve been posting the information for U.S. schools since 2000 and currently are in than 250 U.S. campuses.

Pick-A-Prof Co-founder Chris Chilek said, “research has shown that students who take classes and study with their friends are more likely to attend class and get better grades. Our goal is to encompass both the academic and social aspects of class selection to provide students with everything they need to succeed. This was an obvious step toward this goal.” To address students’ privacy concerns, the service allows students to choose which friends they want to share their course information with...

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U.S. Intel Agencies Double Funding for Tech Scholars

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the umbrella agency for the U.S. intelligence community, more than doubled the number of schools in its scholarship program for students in intelligence-related fields such as computer science and engineering, USA Today reported last week.

Since 2004, more than $16 million has been appropriated for courses and overseas engineering, computer science, and analytical thinking, as well as for fellowships in Middle Eastern and South Asian language studies, Islamic studies, and other specialties. The new programs differ from earlier government assistance plans such as the Title VI fellowships and the National Security Education Program. Those programs sponsor language study for students interested in careers in foreign affairs but are not tied to intelligence agencies.

The programs recognize that 21st-century intelligence officers need skills that can “translate to a variety of areas,” Lenora Peters Gant, who runs the ODNI’s university outreach program, told USA Today. “We want to hire an engineer that understands world cultures and religions and speaks Urdu and Farsi or maybe Korean. That’s where (intelligence) is going.”...

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UC Irvine Joins OpenCourseWare Consortium

University of California at Irvine has joined the OpenCourseWare Consortium (OCW), a movement backed by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to share teaching and learning content and resources freely via the Web.

Through UCI’s OpenCourseWare site, educators will be encouraged to make use of Web materials in developing curriculum. Students will be urged to use the materials for self-study. All course materials contained on the UCI OCW site will be used in accordance with licenses. UCI’s first OCI course offerings will include a course in personal financial planning, as well as course lessons from several UCI Extension for training toward professional certificates.

UCI follows several universities into the OpenCourseWare movement, including the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Kyoto University of Japan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), National Institute of Technology at Tiruchirappalli in India, Paris Tech Graduate School, the Open University of United Kingdom, Tufts University, University of Notre Dame, and Yale. UCI is the first University of California campus and the only west coast university to join the consortium so far...

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Siebel Foundation Names CompSci, B-School Scholars

The Siebel philanthropic organization last week awarded 40 graduate students in computer science and business $25,000 grants to honor their academic performance. The Siebel Scholars Foundation was set up to support “the brightest students in the fields of computer science and business who will influence the global policy and economic decisions that shape our future,” said the foundation’s chairman, Tom Seibel.

The Foundation chose five students each from graduate programs at eight universities: Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science; Harvard University’s Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences; MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; MIT’s Sloan School of Management; Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management; Stanford University’s Department of Computer Science; Stanford’s Graduate School of Business; the University of California at Berkeley’s College of Engineering; the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business; and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Computer Science...

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Yale CS Enrollments Return After Dot-Com Decline

A steady decline in the number of computer science majors at Yale since the burst of the dot-com bubble may be stabilizing, Yale computer sciences department chairman Avi Silberschatz told the Yale Daily News last week. The number of juniors and seniors who declared a computer science reached a peak of 71.5 students during the 2001-02 academic year, according to Yale’s Office of Institutional Research. The number dropped to 54 in 2003-04, 31 in 2004-05, and only 24.5 last year.

Director of Undergraduate Studies Stan Eisenstat said the numbers reflect a national trend showing that the popularity of the CS field depends on the strength of the software and online industries. “The dot-com boom led to a surge in the number of computer science majors nationwide, and the dot-com bust lead to a similar decrease,” he said.

But Silberschatz said the number of majors this year has finally leveled off, and Eisenstat said he believes it will increase next year for the first time in five years, the News reported. “This decline appears to have stopped and there are some indications that there is a change in trend and that we have reached the bottom,” Silberschatz told the News...

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