Wall Street's losses may be computer science's gain

Talent migrates from IT to hedge funds and back again.

Randal Bryant, dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, says his school saw student applications drop from a peak of 3,200 in 2001 at the end of the dot-com boom to a low of 1,700.

But the situation has been turning around, with 2,300 applications coming in last year, he says.

Bryant says he expects the troubles on Wall Street to influence some students to switch majors from business to other fields, including computer science. But he urges caution.

"I like to tell students that if you make your career choice that quickly based on what is hottest this month, you're going to be graduating in four years, and that field may not be hot anymore," Bryant says. "I tell them to major in something they like and not what's a likely short-term fluctuation in the job market.

"Our peak at the dot-com [period] included people in computer science who had no particular aptitude in it," he adds. "But they thought they'd get rich."

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