Desperate or brilliant? Universities offering cash prizes for this

Should universities hold cash-prize competitions to encourage more students to pursue degrees in computer science?

Credit: iDevAffiliate

How can the U.S. remain not only relevant in the technological age, but ahead of other nations in the global economy?

For years, this crucial question has perplexed educators and policymakers.

In 2013, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published a report comparing American adults’ skills in literacy, numeracy, and technology across 24 countries.

Computer and technology comprehension results were discouraging: The U.S.  ranked 14th out of 19 in technology skills (problem-solving using a computer).

The question must be asked: What can college and university leaders do to offset this disturbing trend and encourage greater interest in computer science?

The University of Minnesota may have found a unique solution.

(Next page: Cash competition incentivizes innovation)

On April 4, the University of Minnesota will hold a spirited competition in which student teams are given 24 hours to come up with a solution to a real-world information technology problem.

Carlson School of Management is hosting the competition and local businesses such as General Mills and Target are sponsors. Teams are comprised three undergraduates and this year Minnesota will be competing against teams from Georgia, Texas, Maryland, Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, and Michigan.

Nothing like a healthy competition to foster technology innovation, right? And there is a bonus incentive: First prize receives $500.

Competition co-founder Jessica Sun says “You’re basically put in a situation that mimics real-world IT problems. 24 hours is just a better test of inherent skills and knowledge.”

Do you think schools should hold more competitions to improve computer technology literacy in the United States? Competitions specifically offering money incentives?

Share your comments in the section below and join the conversation on Twitter @Michael_eSM.

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