“Computer Science? What sorcery is that?”

by Tahira Rifath

Im a Computer Science and Mathematics major.  Most of the people I know think that Computer Science is a really boring field to get into. It goes like this, specially old aunties,

aunty 1- “computer science and AI? ae mona kehel malak dhe ae?”

aunty 2 – “ah putha (referred to as son in sinhala) so you finally found something to do? Do you plan on becoming obese, breaking your back, going blind and getting diabetes and dying?”

aunty 3 – “robotics? are you telling me that you’re going to make these weird walking machines that will kills us all one day?”

aunty 4 – “ane mey here do something that you can and come and help me sew this buttons”

So one day to prove them wrong I Introduced them to Google’s search engine and these are some of the responses that I got. ta ta tad tad daaa!

Aunty 1 – “Oh my…. putha… this is like magic noh?”

Aunty 2 – “what is that you told me sometime ago? Natural or artificial Intelligence? Come here and sit next to me and tell me all about it”

Aunty 3 – “ANE MAGEY AMBO!!! I FOUND MY BROTHER WHO WAS GIVEN UP FOR ADOPTION WHEN HE WAS FIVE! THIS IS A MIRACLE.”

They think it’s all about sitting in front of a computer the whole day and typing something which makes no sense at all. What nonsense! Computer Science, it’s FUN.  Imagine being able to make absolutely ANYTHING you want for the computer!  Hmmm, I want to make a game.  BOOM.  Huh, what about a word processor?  DONE.  A cool website?  BAM.  I’ve made all kinds of things from scripts that organize my files on my computer to a text editor to games to websites to pranks on my friends.  Once you know the basic concepts of computer science, you can apply them to every aspect of the field!

A lot of people hesitate about it on a few points.  Firstly, the one that I hear the most out of ANYTHING, is “I’m terrible at computers.”  That doesn’t mean you can’t do computer science!  Computer science is about problem solving, you just happen to use a computer to do it.  For example, I had a problem the other day where all of my music files were encrypted on my computer, and I couldn’t add then to iTunes.  Boom:  I wrote an easy script (honestly it was so easy that I learned the new programming language in a week), and it renamed all of my hundreds of files and organized them for me!  Honestly, computers are stupid creatures.  It takes a computer scientist to make it smart.

Another point that I tend to hear is that computer scientists are all boys who live in their parents’ basements and don’t have any social skillz.  WELL.  Though there are certainly some stereotypical people out there, there’s one in every major.  You’re thinking of someone now.  Good.  Yes, we don’t have many girls in the program.  Ladies, that means more jobs for you.  Cake.  And living in their parents’ basements?  Incorrect, my friend!  Computer scientists are the 2nd highest paying jobs in the country.  I just Googled it, the average starting salary for 2011 grads was $63k (Source).  Just among some of my graduating friends, I know at least 3 who had starting salaries over $80k!  Now, does someone with that kind of money live in their parents’ basement?  Unlikely.

 

There’s all kinds of websites out there that can get you started if you just want to think about computer science, just to try it out.  It’s honestly not that hard.  My 8-year-old nephew can program now because of these, you can do it!
http://www.codecademy.com/
http://codeyear.com/
http://rubymonk.com/
http://codingbat.com/
http://howtostartprogramming.com/
http://musicforprogramming.net/

 

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