Combining passion with computational thinking could help Australian startups

In a follow up to his talk at last week at Vivid Sydney about growing Australian startup culture, Google engineering director Alan Noble has written a an official Google blog post about encouraging more computer science (CS) graduates.


At the event, Noble suggested that one of the ways to ensure mores startups in Australia was to produce more CS graduates, as more startup founders had CS degrees than any other qualification.


“Students will be a whole lot more excited about studying computer science if they can combine it with their passion, their X,” Noble says.


In the post, which is titled “CS+X: What’s your X?” Noble notes that “it’s not just startups which need CS graduates; demand is growing globally from all sectors of the economy so that by 2020, global demand will exceed the number of graduates by 1 million jobs.”


Noble suggests that we might also consider changing the name of the degree, to encourage more to take it up, as computer science “sounds a bit intimidating, doesn’t it?”


“Certainly there is a scientific/mathematical basis to CS, but the CS practitioner mostly relies on computational thinking (CT) skills,” he writes.


“CT includes pattern recognition, pattern abstraction (generalisation), modelling, design, and programming (coding). “


Noble says it’s not “well appreciated” that CT is “applicable to more than just software engineering; it is increasingly a critical skill for understanding and using the computing technology that underpins much of our modern society.”


Highlighting one of the three ways he mentioned in his talk about growing more startups, Noble says that “CS combined with another discipline, brings with it new insights and new ways of approaching things.”


“We call this CS + X, where ‘X’ can be virtually anything,” he says.


“For example, CS + retail = online shopping, CS + finance = ‘fin tech’ (think online banking, personal finance management, etc.), CS + music = products like ‘Pandora’, CS + health = fitness products like ‘Fit Bit’, etc. The opportunities are endless.


“There’s even an Aussie startup called myEvidence combining CS + crime fighting.”


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