It’s Computer Science Education Week, and the Atonix Digital team is excited to join in the celebration! The opportunity continues to grow for computer science and tech talent across a variety of companies. But the demand for such skills is growing twice as fast as the supply.
Are you interested in pursuing a Computer Science education and career? Learn what sparked the interest of a few of our team mates and how they seized the opportunity.
As a kid, I loved solving logic puzzles and futuristic movies like Star Wars. As I grew and thought about what I wanted to get a job in, I knew I wanted to create cool things that helped a lot of people. After taking a web design class in high school, I realized how much I enjoyed making something out of nothing using code and how there is no limit to what you can build.
Pursing a Computer Science degree allowed me to interact with people with a similar mind, and it pushed me to think in new ways. Having great instructors and structured curriculum allowed room to explore a wide breadth of subjects. Learning about different topics from Operating Systems, to Software Engineering, to Theory of Computing, gave me a holistic view of what computers had to offer and helped me determine what I was really interested in amidst a huge field of opportunity.
One great way to start considering if a CS-related career is for you might be to think about something you enjoy about technology and finding a tutorial on how to build something like it. If you enjoy sports video games, see if there is a beginner tutorial on making an easy game. If you enjoy recipes from a certain website, try building a basic website that keeps some of your favorite recipes.
My interest in programming and computer science stemmed from my father. He worked as a computer engineer and a software developer, and during my last year of high school, I had a math project to compute the return on investment for upgrading to more energy efficient appliances – how long it would take the power savings to pay for the new machine. My dad worked with me to write a program that did the math for you, using the equations I’d worked out. I was fascinated watching him create this program as out of thin air, and seeing it run afterward was thrilling. I started considering a career in software after that.
I had also greatly enjoyed my chemistry courses in high school and was considering a career in chemistry. My first semester of college, I took both an introductory CS programming course and the next Chemistry class for which I was qualified. I spent much of the semester praying for guidance between the two paths and pondering which I’d enjoy more. Ultimately it became clear that while I loved thinking about chemistry and how it worked, I found the lab work more stressful than enjoyable, and writing lab reports was a dreadful drudgery. The programming labs, on the other hand, were fun, and the thing I’d written at the end actually ran and did something, unlike my chem lab reports. A lifetime spent writing software was much more appealing than a lifetime spent writing lab reports, and so I declared CS as my major and bid chemistry farewell.
I spent the next six years pursuing CS degrees, beginning with a Bachelors and then a Masters. I picked up a Bachelors in Mathematics along the way, as the CS path required enough math courses to put the second degree within easy reach. At the graduate level, the two concepts continued to dovetail, with multiple courses being cross-listed in both domains; my graduate classes were split fairly evenly between the two departments. Actually, at the University of Tulsa where I studied, it was the same department – Mathematical and Computational Sciences. The department head position rotated between computer science professors and mathematics professors during my time there.
I think my mathematics training enhances my programming skill, as clearly and logically laying out an accurate proof in a math class is rather similar to laying out a functionally correct, error-free algorithm. Some mathematical concepts translate almost directly into algorithms, and in fact, inductive proofs map exactly into recursive algorithms, for example, and recursion is one of the trickier programming concepts to master. I’d recommend anyone interested in computer science to polish their math skills, and anyone who finds mathematics intuitive and straightforward could probably pick up some programming skill pretty easily too.