Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

What are three ways that the UH ICS program could improve?

If you can think of more than three things, then please limit your response to your top three!

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Easy to forget how to program. It has been a year since I took ICS 211 and I know that I have not used some of those techniques since then until this fall came. So I think some of our classes need to be geared towards more programming drills, instead of focusing on theory. Or the creation of an ICS elective to supplement our programming skills.

I think it would be beneficial for everyone if software and hardware requirements were laid out for majoring in ICS. This will probably save people the trouble making extra trips to the store. I know its highly unlikely for now, but an even better improvement would be if our school could get some sort of corporate deal which would get students laptops that would be built around our undergraduate careers. This is not a new idea since some schools do require all their students to purchase/rent a standard laptop to last their undergraduate careers which comes at a low cost with all the software they will need and configured for the school's network.

Sometimes my friends outside of ICS complain about MyUH Portal and other UH related websites and ask me why "it sucks so much," usually followed up with, "you should build a better one." So I think the curriculum can be improved is some sort of class was created to help the school with its technology needs. The STAR page says it was "designed by students, for students," so why don't students get opportunities for more projects like this? I don't think this is an unrealistic way to improve. This can give students some real work experience, especially if they have not had a programming job yet. From a budget standpoint, this could save money since you would not have to hire a developer or development team and having a class do work for the school would be like having free labor.
I believe the three bad things about being an ICS student include:

- The lack of class choices in the 300-400 levels. I have looked at the curriculums of many other universities, and all easily dwarfed our selection. I understand that it's hard to beat the UH price, but at the same time I believe we are being exposed to significantly less than other ICS majors out there. Also, by having such small selection, we are limited in our ability to specialize in various fields we are interested in. This can hurt us when trying to be competitive against other graduates entering a rough job market who have been exposed and are specialized.

- The teaching styles of some of the professors of key courses are out of date with the current age. I'm left with the feeling that some of these professors may need to take a teaching refresher of some sort and maybe even rethink the layout of their lectures. I can remember on quite a few cases where a professor would assume that everyone had knowledge of a concept and immediately built on it without at least first doing a quick review of the 'assumed knowledge.' Even if their belief was just, they should make explicit instruction to review material X. Because of this, I and many other students have felt left behind on various occasions.

- The lack of winter break / summer break review material. I believe that if professors made it known that students should do an optional work/review over the vacation, I bet many students would do it. Especially if we knew this material was going to be lectured on in class. Since this could make our lives easier during the school year, I could see many jumping at the opportunity. Having seen certain types of material before would help further drive key skills/concepts into our long term memory. As a suggestion, this material could be made available on the ICS course website - or having a similar set up to the MIT Open Courseware.

This would allow for a more pleasant experience for both the student and the professor.
1. The variance of professors at UH can really affect one's interest in the subject matter. There are those professors who teach really well and thus stimulate your interest in programming and other professors who do the exact opposite.

2. Class variety and curriculum could be improved. Many of the ICS classes at UH contain a lot of information and lecture material but don't encourage the student to apply what they have learned in class. Most of the learning aspect of programming comes from doing more so than watching and observing.

3. Being affected by budget cuts affects the program's ability to offer a variety of classes and/or professors.
1. Students majoring in CS devote a disproportionate amount of time to their courses. I cringed at the fact that I only received 3 credits for my algorithms course last semester. I spent nearly 20 hours a week on the projects, wrote 4 technical papers that totaled over 10000 words, and presented 4 times in front of the class. I felt that the course should have at least offered 5 credits, a WI (Writing Intensive) credit, and an OC (Oral Communication) credit.

2. Students do not have very many opportunities to do things together outside of class. The ICS club is basically nonexistent. Other than the cyber security team, I am unaware of any other activity that brings us together. I would like to see the department form more student teams to participate in local and national competitions. It would be a great way for students to improve their skills and to build a sense of pride within the ICS department. There are many talented ICS students that could do great things if given the opportunity and the guidance.

3. The ICS department needs their own lounge and study area. It would build a greater sense of community if students and professors had a common place to meet, study, and relax. The place on the 2nd floor of POST is not big enough as it is shared with engineering students.
1. While information technology is very broad, the ICS program focuses mostly on programming. There's no other offered focus in different field.

2. There's no guarantee that you can obtain a Bachelors degree in 4 years. Most of the upper level classes are only offered once a year and has limited seat. This forces students to take other classes that they're not interested in. Also, some classes are offered in Outreach College which is not included in the regular semester tuition fee, therefore extra money that needs to be paid.

3. Lack of ICS major facilities. Most of the ICS lab are used by non-ICS major students. ICS majors are force to work somewhere, like in the library where collaboration may pose as distraction to others. Shouldn't we deserve a nice and comfortable study area that we can call our own? preferably with free coffee?

extra: ICS student's are targeted of stereotypes. Being an ICS students means that: you're a nerd and/or smart; you know how to fix computers; you're a hacker; you're single; and/or anti-social.
1. I have to agree that the cost of text books is one of the biggest problems. There are always ebooks which are cheaper, but many of the text books we end up collecting are ones that we will usually want to keep on the shelf in case we want to refer to them later.

2. The time that we have to invest to complete assignments and projects is definitely much more than many other majors, but that's just the nature of the material we learn. Sometimes the professors aren't at all sympathetic to the students with jobs, families, or children and might not be able to have the time to write as much code as we do. Or even a full time student taking 5 or 6 other courses.

3. Speaking of courses, like one other student mentioned: for a BS you need to have a langauge, and 2 semesters each of physics and chem + labs. Schedule-wise its almost impossible to take both at the same time, it took me a while to take all the classes and get all the credits.
only three bad things?

1) The cost of buying red bull, coffee,5 hour energy or any sort of energy drink or pills. What does that have to do with anything? Well the time you invest completing a project or assignment is not hours, but days, or even worst weeks! In the best case scenario that you were smart and started on an assignment or project early; majority of the time, the dead line just sneaks up on you and that's when you have to burn the midnight oil in order to complete it on time.

2) Diminishing eyesight. I'm not going blind or anything, but I feel that my eyes are slowly getting worse. You know how your parents would tell you not to sit too close to television as a kid because you could go blind; sitting in front of the computer for so long is the same thing. Could be the lack of carrots in my diet though.

3) Headaches & migraines Couple semester back, I had to go to the ER because I had been getting these headaches. Doctor told me it could be a "cluster headache", (not going to what it is). He recommended that I take a 15+ minute break after every hour being in front of the computer. These headaches never happen any other time other than sitting in front of computer for a long time. It's been a while since I got those headaches, but I've got a feeling they might make a comeback this semester.
1. Cost
- We all know how much college costs. You have your tuition and books to pay off while your in college. Also, lets add the cost of a laptop computer, desktop computer, and/or computer parts (if your computer breaks down) since current and future computer science majors are going to need it for their classes as an ICS student.

2. Relevance of non-ICS classes
- Some people have touched up on this subject so I will just say what I will say. How many of the non-classes that we take are actually going to help us in ICS and our future careers? I can honestly see how math, physics, and chemistry could help us, but how would the rest of the classes we take be helpful to us? I haven't really retained anything I learned in those other classes since I wouldn't need them.

3. Sleepless nights
- I tend to have quite a few sleepless nights because I am either staying up trying to complete an assignment or I am lying on my bed half asleep trying to figure out how to complete an assignment. I am not complaining about how the assignments are long and sometimes difficult, but it is just one of those things that ICS students have to deal with. Besides, we probably will have to do this in the future with our jobs.
1. Cost of required textbooks. Although it's great to have an actual hard copy to learn from and as reference, I found that for some of my classes (ICS and other disciplines) that I barely used it after finishing a course. Either the lectures covered most of it already or that free similar information can be found on the internet already.

2. Limited courses and mostly java oriented learning, which leaves little room for learning and practicing other languages. It is understandable to focus mainly on one language, but there are only so few electives that provides learning others as a focus and creating large scale applications.

3. Workload is heavy most times due to programming/debugging. This impacts sleeping and has a negative effect on lifestyle, not to mention schedules for those who have even more on their plate. Unfortunately, this is somewhat reasonable due to the fact that it is part of the programming experience.
1. The hidden costs of this major can be a big problem. Sure, the majority of ICS students already have laptops and computers but seeing as how it is a large requirement can be a big problem. I've already had one laptop die on me and had to scrap up some money to buy a new one ASAP in order to keep pace with the class.

2. The lack of availability of classes. This didn't hit me hard until this semester. I was struggling during registration to find classes that I would actually need when the majority of classes I wanted to take weren't being offered. Sure, I could have taken some other classes that were required, but I would have rather taken a class that I already had initial interest in.

3. The requirements for a BA with a focus in IT is in disarray. There are classes that are requirements yet their prerequisites are not, which makes no sense. I've had to go to an advisor numerous times to get things cleared up.
ICS courses at UH did not pay enough attention to cyber security. As many of the software are having vulnerabilities to the public and being attacked by hackers, I think as a ICS student, the University needs to have ICS students to focus more on cyber security to protect ourselves and users from being exploit to vulnerability.

Computer books are too expensive and changed frequently so that it exceeded students can afford. There are tons of software being published everyday, and people who publish user guide, tips, manual do not have enough time to catch up, while each new version of a software might be completely different. Having an "outdated" book, guide or manual would increase spending on computer textbooks. UH professors will have different opinion on choosing which book to be the textbook. As a result, textbooks are always changing even with the same class but different semester.

As a UH ICS student, we should have more access to servers and computers. UH server only gives out 10mb to students which is totally not enough for ICS students drives ICS students go out and use services outside of UH, such as Free File sharing website, or Google app services.
1. Lack of funds. This is actually affecting more than just the ICS department because of budget cuts. I believe we also had a surge of incoming students last year and professors and TAs had to double up classes to accommodate this influx in enrollment.

2. Class availability is a pretty big issue. As said before, many of the 400 level courses may only be available every 1-2 years, there's really no guarantee that you will be able to get the ones you want before you graduate. Sometimes there may only be one section for the classes that you need and they may overlap with other general education courses that are required to graduate, this can make planning a schedule very difficult. Also, over half of the upper division classes require you to take a single course, ICS 311. It's poorly laid out, but I hear this may be changed in the upcoming semester.



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