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Letters to the Editor

Not Game for a Major

As a holder of two degrees from WPI, I have fond memories of the institution and felt that, above all, it had a strong commitment to pure academics and fundamentals. I was dismayed to learn of a plan to create a new major for the development of video games (“Game Plan,” Summer 2004). I think the answer to the question of creating this new major is right in the article itself. Toward the end it profiles some alumni who later went into the game industry. They credit skills in fundamentals—namely, studying programming and projects experience—for helping them in their current jobs.

I feel the world is too broad for universities to pick a few specific applications of technology and create majors for them. Why not have a major in cell phones, DVD players, or motorcycle design? I strongly believe a good preparation, by studying fundamentals, teamwork, and basic problem solving, is a student’s best bet.

I don’t think it would be a bad idea to have a research area in game design. Students could do projects and steer their degree in this direction. It would be the same if an electrical engineering major decided he liked analog design and steered his courses in that direction. But, he would still be an EE at the end of the day.

My gut impression is that this is a novel way to make more money for WPI, and I see it as selling out. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. If you want to remain a well-respected institution committed to higher learning, you can’t create whimsical degrees just to attract more students.

Jason Byrne ’92 (B.S., EE), ’94 (M.S., EE)
Boulder, Colo.

Life Issues

I was very disappointed with your recent piece on Vicki Cowart ’75 (“A Few Words…” Summer 2004), president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM), because

1. WPI devotes so much energy to improvement of life in the community and is so effective in making that orientation a part of the WPI experience that featuring an individual who is the leader of an organization that appears to be, at best, indifferent or, at worst, hostile toward human life is inconsistent with WPI values.

2. At this point in our history, we are involved militarily in defending the lives of the innocent and vulnerable. Why are the lives of our most innocent and vulnerable not defended as well?

3. Ms. Cowart seems to try to downplay the significance of abortion in PPRM’s activities. Unfortunately, the infinite value of one human life cannot be offset, especially since most of the other activities are directed against the creation of human life.

It was a pleasant contrast to read the story of Karen Kosinski ’02 (“… and life”) and her dedication to helping the disadvantaged. A respect for all human life, born or unborn, is our only footing to building world peace. Until we commit ourselves as a society to respecting and protecting human life, we are destined to remain in conflict.

Bob Smialek ’70 (B.S., MG)
Galena, Ill.

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