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Photo Credit Patrick Alejandro

Halt and catch coding

General education courses at UMBC are a necessary evil. Every undergraduate student has to endure these before graduation, but while students are forced to take them, the classes should at least be helpful in future careers for multiple majors.

Technology in today’s world is so prevalent and its uses can be seen across almost every major. It’s important that students take basic computer programming or coding courses to fulfill their general education requirements.

Computer science classes can help students gain knowledge in computer programming concepts, as well as skills in fast learning and problem solving.

“The community in computer science classes supports you because you’re all trying to find new angles or ways to solve the same problem,” said Andrea Wozniak, a sophomore animation major and vice president of the Game Developers club on campus.

Too often, students of UMBC find themselves in general education courses that feel useless and a complete waste of money. There are physical education requirements that give students little credit and are basically an hour to play pool or bowl with friends.

When students are forced to take required classes from the university they should be gaining some kind of useful skill that could carry over into their specific field of study. Computer programming is one of those courses as its skills are seen in daily life.

The Game Developers Club is an example of how many different majors can use computer programming skills in their field. The club is made up of mostly computer science majors but there are other members with different interests, such as animation, 3D modeling, programming, music, film and advertising.

All of these concentrations benefit from learning more about the basics of computer programming and these students are able to improve their craft through this knowledge.

“It’s a daily part of our lives and we should seek to understand it,” said Eliot Carney-Seim, a senior computer science major. Carney-Seim believes that computer programming classes should be part of general education courses alongside English, math and science and he’s not the only one.

Other universities have implemented computer science classes into their curriculum for required general education courses. Freshman students at Georgia Institute of Technology must take a computer science course no matter what their major is and each student at Montclair State University in New Jersey also has to complete a computer science course to graduate.

This kind of general education requirement is something that UMBC should be considering, especially as it is an honors university specializing in STEM majors.

“I definitely think that requiring a coding course for all students is something we should consider,” said Carolyn Seaman, Associate Professor in the Department of Information Systems at UMBC. “Of course, this requirement would have to replace something else. That’s why this needs to be a campus-wide discussion.”

This addition to the general education requirement should be implemented as it may be a class that does not waste the time, money and resources of the student. In today’s current state, students should not be graduating university without any basic computer programming or coding skills.

“It’s an important class and should be more prevalent,” said Wozniak. “If students don’t want to get into it and it’s not your thing then fine, but they should know the basics.”

UMBC students should be graduating as well-rounded individuals that have taken away skills found across all general education courses, including computer programming. Knowing some basic programming is a question of literacy, and this is a kind of literacy that UMBC needs to foster in its students to better prepare them for the working world.