Computational thinking is critical in allowing students to pursue careers in computer science, according to Microsoft. And “Computer science today is critical to almost every other field of science and engineering,” stated Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research. This is why Microsoft is one of the companies and organizations pushing to have a much stronger computer science education system at the K-12 level for US students. In this regard, the Redmond company, along with additional members of the IT sectors have supported the creation of the Computer Science Education Week.
“Success in the field of computer science is really about learning a new way of solving problems — what has sometimes been called computational thinking,” Rashid explains. “Computation thinking takes a problem and breaks it down into parts and then determines the steps needed to solve it. Computation thinking means being able to think creatively about problems at different levels of abstraction and to find ways to compose pieces of a solution into a working whole.”
Microsoft argues that there’s no need to limit computer science education at university level, and that student should begin developing the necessary skills to aid them in the workplace as early as possible. According to the software giant, grade school students are perfectly capable of embracing computing fundamentals as well as learning how to solve complex problems.
It is precisely in an effort to help boost the future pool of qualified computers scientists that Microsoft has joined with the Association for Computing Machinery, Google Inc., Intel Corporation, the Computer Science Teachers Association, National Center for Women & Information Technology and the Computing Research Association. As a result of the work done by companies in the IT sector, the US Congress has designated the week of Dec. 7 as National Computer Science Education Week.
“A computer scientist is someone who uses the ideas embodied in computing to solve problems in a wide range of areas,” Rashid added. “Computer science today is critical to almost every other field of science and engineering. It is revolutionizing the way we do biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy and healthcare. And it lies at the heart of the best ideas we have for improving the environment.”