Part III: Developing 2016 University Trends in the Computer Sciences Department — Bradley University

“Since 2009, CS/IS student enrollment has grown over 250%, but still dominated by male coeds”

As previously mentioned, at CultureFit, our recruiting experts spend a lot of time providing our clients with guidance on the “Best Practices” available for hiring in the highly competitive IT field. Identifying new hiring trends has become increasingly important in order to effectively find the right candidate with the right cultural fit. Year over year, we’re able to see early trend indicators within the higher education environment – some of the best resources are in the Greater Chicagoland area and nearby universities. Two months ago, we began writing a series of articles focused on the changing educational trends at our local universities, based on the perspectives of the department Chairpersons in the Computer Sciences/IT Department’s at Loyola and Illinois State University. We then compared their perspectives to national averages supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to see the differences. Bradley University is the next featured educational institution.

A Conversation with Dr. Steven Dolins

This month, our discussion was with Dr. Steven Dolins, chair of the Department of Computer Science & Computer Information Systems at Bradley University since 2009. The following highlights his perspective of the changing trends since taking over as chair, he shared several observations:

Steady growth year over year, trying to keep up with employer demand.

“Our Computer Sciences Department began back in the 1970s, as it was once part of the Math Department. Over the past 7 years, since I have been keeping track of the enrollment figures, we have seen a growth that far exceeded our expectations:   CS/IS student enrollment has exceeded 250%.” As stated previously, this is an excellent statistic, since the BLS has given advance notice that the need for qualified graduates in the Computer Science/Internet Technology sector will be in great demand. Over the next decade, the industry will grow by 15%, and the number of new individuals needed will exceed 50,000.  Interestingly, Dr. Dolins saw the exact same amount of students graduating as did Dr. Yacobellis from Loyola University in our last blog: “90% of the students are staying in the program until graduation.”

Have you noticed increases in female enrollment?

“Unfortunately not.  Here at Bradley, their male counterparts make up the majority of students in the program at around 80%.”  However, when compared to the national averages from the BLS, Bradley University is in line with the norm, where females in the program account for 18% of the population.  “We are working diligently to recruit more females into the program to give us greater diversity, and with more secondary schools emphasizing the computer sciences, we expect enrollment to increase in the upcoming years.”

What is the average compensation your graduates are getting?

As for starting salaries, the range varies. “I believe we are on par with the national averages, who are seeing their starting salaries just over $60,000 per year.”  This is in line with the national average, where the BLS has Computer Science grads at the same figure.  Naturally, these numbers will fluctuate depending on the geographic market where they seek a job: major metro vs. rural market.

How do you set the curriculum in this ever changing environment?

“We keep a close eye on the national trends, and adjust accordingly.  In the past, it was strictly a computer science foundation, now specialized fields are popping up everywhere.  Take for example Security. This is now a field in great demand, where in the past was not considered as relevant.” Dr. Dolins is seeing 3 fields that are very popular in the department: mobile computing, security and computer game engineering (still very popular!). The curriculum is set using professional society guidelines, listening to the marketplace and their corporate partners, as well as recruiters.  “We also require our students to participate in team projects, not just individual projects.  This applies to the CS as well as the CIS programs.  We want a well-rounded individual who will be able to perform in every setting.” stated Dr. Dolins.  National trends agree with the curriculum Bradley University is teaching, which shows the largest growth over the next 10 years will be in Security and Software Engineering.

To find out about a degree in Computer Science at Bradley University, visit them here, and visit their career page. To find out more about these changing trends, talk to one of our recruitment specialists at CultureFit. CultureFit is a full service Technology Staffing and recruitment firm for corporate cultures and IT professionals that value organizational fit, employee satisfaction, and an extremely high level of technical IT skills.

This is part three in of a three part series. To continue reading, see parts I and II below.