Back to the future
AUT University celebrated 40 years of computing last month with a get-together of past and present staff and students.
Graduates from each of the decades spoke at the evening, including entrepreneur Annette Presley – “our most successful dropout”, according to her 1970s tutor. Simon Gould-Thorpe (student in the 80s, and now IS manager of Honda NZ), and Philip Coster (90s graduate, now general manager of IT at ACP Media) also addressed the gathering.
In 1967 Auckland Technical Institute held its first computing class for 22 students as part of a one-year Certificate for Computer Personnel.
ATI tutors taught non-computing courses such as accounting, while IBM staff taught the technical content on secondment. Today AUT has 600 students on IT courses.
Head of computing and mathematical sciences Professor Ajit Narayanan says AUT graduates permeate all organisational sectors including roles in management, technical leadership, business analysis, network administration, sales and consultancy and can be found from London to Ho Chi Min City.
First generation’ computing was driven by business, industrial and defence motives, says Professor Narayanan, and computing education to a large extent reflected this. Next-generation computing will be driven by the need to use computers for the benefit of humanity and, in particular, to understand complex problems that are currently beyond human comprehension.
Curing diseases, improving climate change models, and understanding the very fabric of the universe will keep computer scientists of the future occupied for the next hundred years, predicted Professor Narayanan.