In my last post I told you I’d write in this post Why you should become an engineer. I lied. Actually I’ll tell you why you should become a Computer Scientist, cause that’s what I can tell you about.
“I don’t know what to study, I’ll apply for Computer Science” should become the new “I don’t know what to study, I’ll apply for Economics”. (Honestly, I’ve heard it countless times and was too close to doing economics myself).
Let me tell you why.
Our world is turning into a digital nervous system. To a certain extent it already is one. Temperature sensors, pressure sensors, gps coordinates, cameras with face recognition, automatic tracking… the list is endless. All this data is then put on the web. It’s virtually impossible not to be connected today (directly or indirectly), unless you spend years trying to get off the grid completely (you’d probably have to fake your own death and join an amazonian tribe). And it’s becoming even more so… the amount of devices connected to the internet has been multiplying exponentially for years and is expected to do so right up until we’re all connected, every single one of us on this planet (which doesn’t mean that the amount of devices will just level out, just that the growth rate will slow down a wee bit).
I can’t find the data right now, but the amount of devices already connected to the internet surpasses the worlds population by well over a billion*. A billion! Imagine what that number will be in a few years time.
Ever heard of “IoT”? It stands for The Internet of Things; in essence the connection of everyday appliances to the web. This field is expanding ridiculously fast, bursting at the seams with all the possibilities. I bet that within 2 years time we’ll see a fridge that can scan all it’s contents and provide a grocery list that will be right there on your smartphone. I mean, even microwaves are connected to the internet. Who would have thought that this development could go so fast?! And why on earth does a microwave need internet?
A few weeks ago the first driverless car was seen cruising around San Fran. I’m terrified of crossing the street so I’m not exactly looking forward to the day I’ll be staring at a windscreen without that comforting hey I see you nod. My bearded man thinks this is ridiculous as computers will be able to drive so much better than humans, but I’m still terrified. But hey, I can admit it’s pretty cool.
Anyway. I imagine you can see where I’m going with this. There are endless opportunities within CS… every field you can imagine has some connection to CS, and if it doesn’t – it will have in due time. I met a world renowned urologist in Jaipur last december who told us about how they’d started conducting surgery remotely; a doctor in the US could stick his hands in a pair of gloves and through augmented reality interact with a robot and operate on a patient in India. Can you imagine the technology behind this? You could be in networking, taking care of making sure that information is sent quickly and securely with zero loss. You could write the code for the robot, you could write the code for the gloves‚ you could design the robot or the gloves…! And all this needs maintenance; new operating systems, new ways of interacting with the devices, new interfaces, new functions! I could go on and on and on, but I know you’ve got the gist of it now.
So in essence you can pretty much pick any field when starting out from CS. You can be the conventional programmer, you can build the next heart rate monitor for the next fitness band, you can parse cat mannerisms and draw conclusion from that data, you can work with people, you can help people… There’s everything in our field, and even if you choose another field in the end (say economics) you will always have use of basic knowledge in Computer Science.
And here’s the thing; you can go anywhere in the world if you know some programming! A programming language is universal. I might not be able to speak to a Korean, but I can read a koreans code.
What I’m saying is, you should do yourself a favour and give it a try. You don’t have to love mathematics, you don’t have to have a clue about what programming is (and honestly, you don’t even have to enjoy programming as long as you have an understanding of it. I still have nightmares about Java). Computer Science needs ALL types of people, every single type of personality and knowledge is needed. We need you all.
Specifically, we NEED you girls. I need you girls. If someone amusingly asks me really, CS major? one more time I will flip. Seriously, I’ve had enough. Lets just scrap this conventional computer geek bullshit by changing the norm. 50% girls in CS by 2020, right?
Pretty infographic on girls and CS, some of this data is outrageous and I intend to touch upon it in a future post: http://visual.ly/how-girls-hold-themselves-back-pursuing-computer-science
*I found the devices-connected-to-the-internet article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2013/01/07/how-many-things-are-currently-connected-to-the-internet-of-things-iot/