A Virginia Tech software engineering class in 2009 was discussing world problems and how computer science might offer solutions when a student piped up with a personal gripe, the Washington Post reports. “You know what I hate?” the student said, according to assistant professor Eli Tilevich, who was teaching the class. “I never know when the bus is coming.” As Virginia Tech and other universities train a new generation of computer scientists, professors are asking students to create programs that address real-life problems, often through handy, smartphone-ready apps. It’s a break from traditional coursework such as sorting lists of numbers or re-creating programs that already exist…

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Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura