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Computing guru makes case for better education

Shortage of qualified professionals cited as major inhibiting factor for IT sector

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 12:58 January 27, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manama: Improved education is crucial to train more Information Technology (IT) professionals who will work on solutions to the increasing challenges the field is facing, an award-winning US pioneer in computer design has said in Qatar.

“We have more data than ever before, yet not enough IT professionals to meet the demand,” Chuck Thacker, a professor and technical fellow at Microsoft Research, said. “That is why improved education for all is crucial. And, the field of computing can be a benefit to society,” he said in his lecture on the challenges facing computing in the 21st century at Carnegie Mellon Qatar’s Dean’s Lecture Series.

Solutions to many of the problems facing IT have been found, including speech recognition, but many of these challenges persist, he said.

The increasing gap between processor speed and storage access times and the difficulty of cooling today’s computers are also among the challenges the Information Technology sector needs to solve, he said.

Students said that they found Thacker’s lecture insightful, according to a Carnegie Mellon Qatar release emailed to Gulf News.

“The highlight for me was the video that was shown on speech translation,” Narcis Jafarian, a Carnegie Mellon student, said. “It is amazing that technology is so advanced that this can be done with such accuracy and with the potential to break down language barriers for society.”

Abdullah Al Shakarchi, a student at Qatar Academy, said that he had read about Chuck Thacker and his work and wanted to listen to his opinion on technology and computer science.

Thacker received the Association for Computing Machinery’s A.M. Turing Award in 2009 for his numerous contributions to the field, including his pioneering design and realisation of the Alto, the first modern personal computer, the prototype for networked personal computers, his contributions to the ethernet local area network, which enables multiple computers to communicate and share resources, and the prototype for today’s most used tablet PC, with its capabilities for direct user interaction.

The Turing Award is an annual prize given to “an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community.” The award has been called both the highest distinction in computer science and the Nobel Prize of computing.

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