The following was my response to one of the essays I responded to in my Computer Science senior seminar class: Task 3.
I entered Virginia Tech in the Fall 2009 semester with half a decade of experience building websites (they weren’t called “web applications” back then), doing freelance consulting work for clients around the world, and already owning a business. I never really wanted to come to college because I thought that I was already successful. I thought I was already going to make it big and I had all the right answers. Now looking back, I am glad that I made the choice to travel 13 hours north into the New River Valley. I took what I knew for granted and really learned to appreciate, over the four years I was at Virginia Tech, the strong background that I had in what the world really calls “Computer Science”. I want to transcend beyond a script kiddie, a young developer, a web developer, a mobile software developer, and a web engineer. As what I think has been one of the most influential CS professors at Virginia Tech says, we should all strive to be “Solution Providers” (Thanks Dr. Balci!). That really hits home for me now and it means a lot. I think it ties so much with the CS@VT outcomes of “an ability to apply problem-solving strategies to new, unknown, or open-ended situations in computer science” and “a recognition of the need for and ability to engage in lifelong learning”.
When you read these outcomes, you can easily think to yourself..“Obviously! Well that’s obviously what a computer scientist strives to do. That’s clearly who I am. That’s who I am and I’ve now got a diploma to prove it.” The real thing is that the diploma really doesn’t mean anything. Most people will hang it up on their wall as a first sign of accomplish, some will leave it home when they start their awesome jobs. Few will forget about it. I think the CS@VT program really shapes you into your own type of computer scientist and solution provider.
I’ve found that I have had to take an initiative to decide on what type of computer scientist am I going to be. There are many facades of this industry, many parts and components that make us up as an industry and they come from both extremes. Am I going to be the one that is going to be locked up in a cage late at night drinking mountain dew, eating Jimmy Johns and not showering? Or am I going to be the computer scientist waking up every morning excited to challenge myself to learn something new, leading teams to solve challenging and interesting problems, constantly working with others, working with each member to make sure that they are learning, becoming better people as a whole and not only owning the complex problems we are working on but being proud to share it with the world for millions to use? The choice is really mine and I hope you can tell which one I would like to be. I think the combination of these outcomes make sense to me because I never want to stop learning. I am always eager to learn something new, improve the skills that I already have and play with new bits (no pun intended) of code to see how I can solve the same problem a multitude of different ways. That is the only way you will be able to really apply various problem solving strategies if you have experimented a lot and know which techniques and frameworks can be best suited to cater to a client’s specific needs.
Reflecting on the four years, these outcomes aren’t something I think I went into college knowing. To be honest, I’ve never read the CS@VT outcomes before this assignment task this semester and it’s awesome that I can leave that I feel affected by these learning outcomes. That I can relate to them in my studies and want to use my new abilities to work within the industry. My CS@VT experience has been awesome! Great! Fantastic! I am excited for all those behind me to see what will unfold for them. I challenge everyone to break the norms of Computer Science. Don’t be the stereotypical person, be strong, be weird, be different, be quirky, be strange. That’s what makes us the greatest minds on the face of the planet is because we don’t have shame. We aren’t afraid of what we know and we aren’t afraid to show it. I want to be a new face of Computer Science. I want to show others the best of my abilities and I want to break new ground with the projects and problems I have yet to face in my future. Go Hokies!