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UCI Charges Ahead In Tech Training

Friday, November 29, 2019

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“We will keep charging ahead,” said Marios Papaefthymiou, dean of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at University of California, Irvine. “There’s a ton of demand for what we do.”

Employers eagerly snatch up the school’s tech-savvy graduates, and will keep doing so in the future as computers are used in more segments of the economy, the UCI dean told the Business Journal.

Papaefthymiou recently introduced eight new tenure-track faculty members for the school, which includes computer sciences, informatics and statistics, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees.

The five women and three men have specialties ranging from how to deal with unstructured data to how and why people use social media.

The school’s faculty has expanded to 94 positions for a 40% increase in tenure-track jobs in three years. Papaefthymiou sees the number topping 100 next year and the school is advertising more open positions.

17K Apps

Faculty’s growing at the UCI school, and so is the level of interest in studying there.

“We had 11,000 applications for our undergraduate programs for fall 2019. We had 6,000 applications for the graduate programs for 2019,” said Papaefthymiou, who expects interest from prospective students to keep rising.

The Bren school now boasts 3,200 undergraduates and 800 students seeking masters and doctoral degrees.

Papaefthymiou cites figures predicting about 1 million job openings in computing fields in the U.S. over the next decade, when counting both retirements and new positions, or about 100,000 a year.

Only half that number graduate from North American schools, he said, so “demand exceeds supply … by 100% for the foreseeable future. Name a sector in the economy and they are hiring in computing.”

Professional Class

Papaefthymiou said UCI’s computer sciences department is in the top 15 in the country among public universities, while he foresees the “fairly young” and “very strong” statistics department reaching the top 20 in the country very soon; the informatics department also has an “excellent” reputation.

Faculty are in the classroom, the dean said; less than 10% of courses are taught by lecturers. Some lecturers come from industry for an “invaluable” perspective, Papaefthymiou said.

He’s been in Irvine for two and a half years, after two decades as a professor at University of Michigan. “Having four seasons is fun,” he said of the Midwest, but foregoing that was a small price to pay for OC.

“So far, so good.”

Source: Orange County Business Journal

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