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Arizona may take pride in its unofficial moniker as the Silicon Desert, but when it comes to developing future software makers, some say the state's universities are still in the Dark Ages.
In an industry marked by rapid change and an acute shortage of workers with specialized training, course listings of the computer science programs at Arizona schools read like a historical yearbook of the computer industry, critics say.
The situation is prompting software makers to suggest a new computer science degree that reflects more closely current industry trends and arms future programmers with specific skills.
Most California universities offer course titles such as C++, Java and Visual Basic, the later-generation languages used by industry giants. But Arizona schools focus their curricula mostly on programming methods and theory, covering specific computer languages in only two courses, FORTRAN and BASIC.
"FORTRAN? It might as well be ancient Greek," said Ken Bender, a Phoenix consultant for software companies. "I don't think the university community has quite caught up with where the software industry is moving, and I don't think they're serving the industry - or their students, for that matter." …