BYU producing high-tech graduates

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    By JEANELLE CARDEN AND CATHERINE CALDER

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    Although the number of high-tech graduates across the country is decreasing, Utah continues to produce more graduates than any other state, with BYU at the top of the list.

    According to a report released last week by American Electronics Association, in 1990 the number of high-tech degrees dropped 5 percent across the nation, while technology degrees in Utah increased 16 percent.

    “This valley really is a software industry,” said Dr. William Barrett, chair of the Computer Science Department at BYU. “Novell was started by students that came out of our department. Word Perfect obviously was started by one of our faculty members. There is an industry that has grown up here (at BYU).”

    In addition to the technology tradition in Utah Valley, BYU has a dedicated faculty who have a desire to serve, Barrett said.

    “Our faculty is a strong, young faculty who are active in their disciplines, active in research and are just excellent teachers,” Barrett said.

    Thirty-four BYU students graduated with undergraduate degrees last December and fifty-six graduated in April 1999, according to the Computer Science Department. Barrett said his students recognize the value of a degree from an accredited four-year program rather than a quick start programming course.

    “Students don’t have to complete their education to get a good job, but it is a mistake to drop out because they sell themselves short,” said Tony Martinez, associate chair of BYU’s Computer Science Department.

    Taylor Wayman, 23, a BYU senior from Texas, majoring in computer science, said he knows he could quit school for a high paying job today, but he recognizes the value of a degree.

    “Experience is a big part of it,” Wayman said. “It’s probably not quite as important as a degree, but if you have a degree and a little bit of experience they’ll snap you up a bit quicker than somebody with no experience.”

    Barrett said his students are going into top industrial positions all over the country. BYU usually places computer science graduates within three weeks of graduation, he said. Graduates can expect to make between thirty-five to forty-five thousand right out of school, he said.

    Wayman said although it is enticing, if it meant leaving school without a degree he wouldn’t take it.

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