Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Connect With Computer Science

This article was originally written for NerdGirls.com.

If you thought that computer science was all about sitting in boring old cubicles, pounding away on the keyboard and writing code all day, think again! You can connect computer science with just about anything you’re interested in.

Take video games, for instance. If you have a passion for entertaining others, you can use the coding skills you learn in college to help develop the next blockbuster hit in one of the fastest growing industries around. But it goes much further than just programming. If you’re the artistic type, for example, you might enjoy working on a game’s graphics. Or maybe you are more into the nuts and bolts of things, in which case maybe you’d rather get games working on all different types of machines. Then there’s that whole thing about making games think with artificial intelligence. Obviously, games open up a whole world of possibilities!

When was the last time you opened up Facebook to find out what your friends were up to? Sure, a web page may seem like a simple thing to create at first glance. Besides the security issues involved, you have to think about how to scale an application so that a million people can all use it at the same time. No user wants to get a page that is slow to load just because so many other people are using it at the same time. Concepts from computer science, like parallelization, can help ensure this doesn’t happen.

Have you ever found yourself fascinated by the human mind? If psychology gets you excited, then you’d be the perfect candidate to help design the next coolest human-computer interface. Mice are going out of style for better input methods like the touch screen popping up on popular devices like the iPhone. How will people interact with computers at home in the future? What implications of various new inputs are there? How can innovative new designs help special groups, like the elderly and disabled?

You can even connect computer science to medicine and biology. Computational biology might help find new ways of treating cancer or analyzing genome sequences. All those medical records scattered between hospitals and doctors offices might one day be digitized into one central database. Telemedicine may bring more care to remote areas in Africa.

Of course, these are just a few ways to get excited about the field. In reality, no matter what makes you jump with joy, you can use computer science to make it bigger, better, or faster.

2 comments:

PhizzleDizzle said...

Cool! I had never heard of Nerd Girls before but what a great concept!

Gail said...

Yeah, I quite like how the girls are who they are, without worrying about whether they look like they are trying to sell the concept with sexiness - it just happens that they are into makeup (not all of us are, but either way is a-ok!). The initiative has unfortunately seemed to die down, but I'd be happy to see it pick up again.

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