Awww right! Break out the champagne! Cnet news reports that the University of Illinois tied for 17th place in the world finals of the Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest. The article then goes on to bemoan the fact that this is the worst showing ever for a U.S. team and that this means that the U.S. is slipping as a leader in technology, blah, blah, blah…
Well duh! Why should the best and brightest in the U.S. bother with careers in technology when those jobs are being shipped overseas in the name of cost cutting? Ironically, the article suggests that higher pay would entice more Americans to seek tech careers! Hellooooo! The jobs are going away because U.S. companies don’t want to pay higher salaries when they can throw rooms full of Indian, Russian, or Chinese programmers at the problem for a fraction of the cost. So is it any surprise that Americans are not interested?
As usual, the education system is also blamed for the slide. Yes the education system needs a serious overhaul, but that is not going to affect the interest of Americans in technology careers. Not only are the jobs going away to cheaper shores, but generally Americans revile those who are most interested in science and technology. On the one hand geeks and nerds are endlessly harassed in school, which is basically expected. And on the other hand the current social climate is more interested in divine revelation than research as the basis of government policy.
If we really want to reverse the trend we need to teach our people how to be entrepreneurs! Techies shouldn’t expect or be trained just to be cogs at HP, Microsoft, or IBM. The real action is going to happen in the startups where bright people will lay it all on the line and really push the envelope. I think the U.S. is still one of the best environments for this to happen, but we don’t really teach our people how to do this and indeed to expect to do this rather than being wage slaves for a lifetime. If we’re such a great capitalistic country, then let’s get serious and teach our people to be real capitalists!