• Subject: Re: Tangling "AS/400 Education" and "Design shift" threads
  • From: "Rick Baird" <rbbaird@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 14:48:27 -0500
  • Organization: Premium Systems, Inc.

Scott Cornell wrote:
> Never being one to be shy, I'll risk confusing issues :)
> Let me preface this rather long missive by cheerfully admitting my
> ignorance of what I speak - I attended a 4 year university.  As such,
> views expressed re: community colleges and the like are based
> wholly on prejudice, hearsay, and whatever other flimsy evidence
> has floated my way.  Opinions expressed are in no way intended to
> denigrate ANYONE on the list, nor any graduates of CC's, tech
> schools, or even the schools of hard knocks.  Now, onward

Already, you've offended me, painfully, professionally and personally!


> Upshot - maybe the thing to do is to push schools to teach "data
> processing" rather than exclusively the AS/400 itself.  By that, I
> mean go ahead & study Codd and relational database theory, study
> the ins and outs & guts of what's deep down inside as well as the blue
> sky but not very practical theories along with the nuts and bolts of
> the AS/400.  One of the things that impresses me most about the
> AS/400 is the ease with which it handles doing something I know to be
> technically difficult to do (single level storage for example),
> primarily because some prof forced me to deal with the same issues
> in Operating Systems 407 using "bear skins and stone knives"...well,
> systems other than the AS/400, which amounts to the same thing :).  If
> there were more of that type of "Gee, what if I tried X" talent
> working on the AS/400, design paradigm shifts might come about all
> by themselves.  Maybe the ease of development on the AS/400
> encourages a gradual "dumbing down" of the collective talent pool,
> by which I do NOT mean a lack of intelligence, but more a lack of
> imagination.

You are absolutely correct, but problem is, there isn't enough time in
a one or two year school to teach theory.  These schools do teach
general computer science (for a very short time) but are focused on
RPG, DDS and CL for a good reason.  It takes every bit of the time
available to gain even a limited proficiency.  As you said, they are
there to get a job.

In my hiring experience, the ONLY hirable candidates (with very few
exceptions) for an AS/400 P/A position are (in reverse order to
success rate):
1) Intelligent current employees wishing move out of ops or data
2) Graduates of 1 or 2 year Tech schools or CCs focused on the 400, 
3) experienced AS/400 P/As.

Anyone else, if they are good, would rather be coding for pcs.

If the 1 and 2 year schools spent too much time on "bear skins and
stone knives", grads would need another year to become productive,
once they hit the streets.  

Those from 4 year schools who have been exposed to "theory" and
"paradigms" gravitate to 'C' and other visual languages, networks and
"open" operating systems, for no other reason than it's perceived as
sexier than the alternative.

Ever tried to get a kid just out of a 4 year school to design a
database using DDS, or code RPG after being taught c, c++ and visual
basic?  They just don't get it.
> Preparing to be flamed by CC graduates, but still curious as to the
> opinions out there

No flames intended. 

High school grad,
1 yr tech school grad,
hard knocks school drop out :),

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