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Are Universities Training Socially Minded Programmers?

Four Stanford engineers started a club for students interested in using their skills for social good. But then came job-recruiting season.

by Simone Stolzoff / July 24, 2017

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Stolzoff, S. (2017, July 24). Are Universities Training Socially Minded Programmers?. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/07/socially-minded-programmers/563921/

As graduation approached, Niu and her colleagues found themselves gravitating toward for-profit companies. [...] At Microsoft, Chopra is focused on using technology to address poverty. Murata told me, “If we can get people at big tech companies—including within branches that are not social-good-related—to become more thoughtful about how their work impacts society, then that’s a tremendous net-positive impact for the industry.” And it’s hard to fault students for prioritizing lucrative career paths, especially given the fact that the median monthly rent in the Bay Area is over $1,500.

[...] Ultimately, she hopes to use her technical expertise to solve a social problem. For now, she’ll make a living.

accurate (if incomplete) on the structural factors

by Simone Stolzoff 2 years, 8 months ago

As graduation approached, Niu and her colleagues found themselves gravitating toward for-profit companies. [...] At Microsoft, Chopra is focused on using technology to address poverty. Murata told me, “If we can get people at big tech companies—including within branches that are not social-good-related—to become more thoughtful about how their work impacts society, then that’s a tremendous net-positive impact for the industry.” And it’s hard to fault students for prioritizing lucrative career paths, especially given the fact that the median monthly rent in the Bay Area is over $1,500.

[...] Ultimately, she hopes to use her technical expertise to solve a social problem. For now, she’ll make a living.

accurate (if incomplete) on the structural factors

by Simone Stolzoff 2 years, 8 months ago

When Google makes money, Stanford makes money. Like most research universities, it holds patents for inventions conceived on campus; the university has brought in more than $300 million in royalties from Google’s PageRank tool, which Larry Page and Sergey Brin patented at the engineering school in 1996. Down the street at the business school, change lives posters hang from lampposts outside buildings named for prominent hedge-fund managers and finance executives. Stanford would seem to have a financial incentive to encourage students to join the biggest tech companies, investment banks, and management consulting firms. A Stanford spokesman said via email, “We want our alumni to find satisfaction and success—however they may define that—regardless of the path they choose when they graduate."

by Simone Stolzoff 2 years, 8 months ago

When Google makes money, Stanford makes money. Like most research universities, it holds patents for inventions conceived on campus; the university has brought in more than $300 million in royalties from Google’s PageRank tool, which Larry Page and Sergey Brin patented at the engineering school in 1996. Down the street at the business school, change lives posters hang from lampposts outside buildings named for prominent hedge-fund managers and finance executives. Stanford would seem to have a financial incentive to encourage students to join the biggest tech companies, investment banks, and management consulting firms. A Stanford spokesman said via email, “We want our alumni to find satisfaction and success—however they may define that—regardless of the path they choose when they graduate."

by Simone Stolzoff 2 years, 8 months ago