There is a lack of quality computer science graduates according to connectivity pioneer VNC Automotive, thus could one day compromise the automotive industry which is well down the path of modernization.

As customers and regulators demand more from automotive companies for features the include connected systems and active safety systems, much more code needs to be written in cars from Volvo, Volkswagen, BMW, Ford, and others.

Carmakers must recruit thousands of new developers for them to write codes in-house. However, with universities simplifying their curriculums in favour of quantity of graduates, and automated tools making it easier to write codes, it has led to a loss of analytical skills crucial to the industry.

“Today’s courses tend to focus on high-level software tools that generate code for you,” says Tom Blackie, CEO, VNC Automotive. “While they have an important role to play in removing much of the grunt-work of software development, we’ve found this increased abstraction tends to produce graduates with little understanding of how a computer actually works.”

Automated tools that quickly deploy reusable chunks of code for the most commonly used functions, such as interpreting user input or rendering graphical displays, can speed up development and reduce a product’s time-to-market. However, over-reliance on these predefined building blocks can lead to inefficiencies that can be measured in terms of memory footprint, speed and power consumption.

“Previous generations of software developers cut their teeth on home computers with very limited resources,” explains Blackie. “Sat in a bedroom with only 32KB to play with forced them to learn how to write incredibly tight, well-optimised code.”

The modern equivalent of those early self-taught engineers might be a tinkerer with an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi. Both help teach how to write code that executes ‘close to the metal’, a skill that’s vital for the development of embedded software that today controls everything in cars from unlocking the doors to turning on the wipers.

Many of the German automotive OEMs have created a culture of nurturing courses at nearby universities, allowing them to steer course content in a way that ensures a steady supply of new talent. In America, Silicon Valley often dictates the path for graduates and that has established a culture of its own.


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