The news is full of job lay-offs these days, but there's one sector of the economy that can't hire people fast enough. You spend hours in front of the computer every week anyway, why not make a career of it? A lucrative career. "The job market has been described as anything from wildly extraordinary to almost insane in certan parts of the country, and so there is no problem for any student who graduates from our program in order to be able to find a really good job somewhere," says Dr. Tony Duben, Professor, and director of the Computer Sciences department at Southeast Missouri State University. Duben oversees one of the more progressive university computer science departments in the state. The approach here at SEMO is to graduate students with the broadast possible skill set...but more and more that means approaching computer science as an engineering degree. "So that means that the students who are interested in pursuing this tyupe of a discipline are going to have the same type of skill set and intellectual competencies that a student who wants to go into Engineering would have," says Duben. But if you can make it through, the pay-off is one of the best among all graduates in starting salaries. "I've looked on the web sites that have jobs for computers, and it's about $50,000-70,000," says Robert Dale, a Junior in the Computer Sciences program at SEMO. "Our students right now, it seems that they're starting out a $50,000 and up," says Duben. "I'm hearing about between $40,000-65,000," says Juli Moore, also a Junior in the Computer Sciences program at SEMO. And Moore is bucking the trend. She says there's less than a handful of women in any of her classes. "Actually in most of my classes there are about 4 girls in each of the programming and computer science classes, and there are more in the information systems classes, but the computer science classes are generally an average of 4 girls in each class," says Moore. But regardless of gender, a computer science degree is a passport to profit that is starting to get the attention of students who before might have worried about the onus of being called a computer "geek". "There's nothing wrong with being a geek, because, you know, you're at the high end of the professional levels as compared to the people who are criticizing the geeks," says Duben. Duben says corporations needing qualified computer professionals are having to go outside the country, toIindia, Russia, and the Pacific rim nations to fill job slots. And he says Univrsities like SEMO have a tough time getting and keeping good computer professors.