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A $350 million gift from investment banker Stephen Schwarzman will allow the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge to “rewire” how it educates students in this foundational subject, school officials announced today.
The money will help finance a new building that will house a college of computing named for its major donor. It will also allow MIT to cope with the rising demand for computer science courses from students majoring in any number of disciplines by paying for 50 new faculty members.
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“Roughly 40% of our current undergraduates are majoring in computer science or computer science and X,” says MIT Provost Martin Schmidt. With only 10% of the university’s 1000 faculty capable of teaching computer science courses, Schmidt says, “having them teach 40% of the undergraduates has created a huge load imbalance.”
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Computing is now part of the department of electrical engineering and computer science within MIT’s school of engineering. It is by far the largest of MIT’s five schools, serving 70% of undergraduates and 45% of graduate students.
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“It no longer makes sense to have computer science within electrical engineering,” says Michael Stonebraker, one of seven MIT computing faculty members who wrote an open letter last year asking MIT to consider creating a separate school of computing. Computing was being taught “in a haphazard fashion” across my departments, he says, an “inefficient and fragmented approach” that undermined the quality of instruction.
The new college addresses those problems, says...
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