Impacted.

 

This words sounds more dreadful every time I hear it. “CS 26 (BS) – Computer Science – This major is impacted”.I should be happy I supposed that more people want to study computer science – more people are going to drive this industry forward – more people want to be innovators.

However, that is the big picture.

See, I live in a narrow hollow world right now where the big picture sometimes becomes irrelevant in front of more pressing concerns. Like classes. My classes.

  1. The classes I have to enroll in before seats get filled up.
  2. So that I can complete my major.
  3. So that I can graduate on time.
  4. So I can save money by not spending 5 years instead of 4 in college.

Yet with all this should I need to think of the big picture. So the more people willing to innovate- the higher my chances of loosing precious time and money. Even as I type this I feel horrible. Don’t get me wrong I am not blaming all the people enrolling in computer science.  I am one of them and thus everyone in this field will always be a friend by terms of interest. Yet, I wish sometimes universities would realize that people opt for these majors … to actually be able to take their classes.

 

I am surrounded by CS majors here in college.

I am a CS major too.

Yet, sometimes I wonder – what is it that we CS majors really want after all?

Some of us are brilliant at what we do. Some of my friends, I would place in that category. I see them everyday in the lab- working on stuff, chatting and living their life. they are the people who have interviews at the top companies today. They are the people who I would go to if I have questions, concerns or just need some advice about internships-about code-about basically everything related to computer science.

Some of us are not so brilliant but we love what we do. I may place myself in this category but then I may not. We are always in the labs too, working our butts off and then rewarding ourselves with ice-cream once we get our assignments done and our projects to work. These are the people we hang out with at the lab. We maul over the exams and let out our frustrations as well as talk about that little bugger of an error we just fixed with these people.

There is also the other kind of people – I don’t know very many of them. The ones that picked CS as a major because it is popular and they can do it. Maybe they like it maybe they don’t. Maybe they are brilliant at it as well or maybe they just end up switching out of it. They are they ones that have a very different ambition with regards to computer science and as such I do not know much about it.

I wonder what I want. I would not put myself in the first category. I may not even put myself in the second. In some cases I would. I am not in the third category for sure. Yet, I know I love studying this.

Am I then supposed to be looking for an internship  or a job in a sprint? Is that what I am “supposed” to want? 

I am not a big fan of job fairs. I don’t put on a formal attire and attend information sessions with the big names in the business. I sometimes think of applying for a position somewhere close by to the college but not majorly. Does that make me incompetent or lazy in the CS world?

I focus on my classes and do events on my college campus. I am planning to study abroad even though I am already studying abroad by studying at UC San Diego. I want to travel over the summer instead of intern. I want to take classes to learn a different language instead of cramming in another CS course so I have more to put on my resume. I want to spend time writing that research paper for that other history class. I want to minor in Studio Art and make a portfolio of portraits of people close to me. 

As a result I don’t have much time to do a billion individual CS projects the the big shot companies are looking for in a picture-perfect resume. Does that make me not much involved in the CS world? Maybe. But it does not change the fact that I am still a kind of CS major.

I love tutoring. I love working on the assignments we get from class even though sometimes they may frustrate the life out of me. I know I love what I do and if I wanted anything better I would have switched my major but I did not. 

I love being a computer science major. Yet, I love other things too – like art; travelling. Should that matter?

Hell no. We are not clones.

 

Morals and the Tech Boom

Posted: November 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

Advancement is inevitable for each generation as long as there is someone thinking about progress. Just a few decades ago computers were just in their beginning stages and today computer science – computer engineering are one of the most desired majors (— impacted at UCSD—)

Computers have been changing lives – even saving lives, all around us. From being used in the field of medicine for synthesis and trials of new possible cures, storing impeccable amounts of data for use be organizations, being the basis of research to being used in child development programs, home appliances and simply comfort technology – the development of computing is shaping both innovative and social circles. 

I recently realized exactly how diverse you can get when my roommate started working as a research assistant for a professor of Bioengineering at UCSD. Although the research is primarily based around protein synthesis – she has to be computing a lot as there is specific program that is an integral part of the synthesis procedure and working on debugging it the first part of her job.

However, as it gets easier to transfer information, it also gets easier to obtain information – and this is where I fear the sheer power of computing overshadows its use for good. And technology increases – there will always be a concern in the department of security, privacy and containment of information. The FBI Annual Report for 2012 states that the total complaints received: 289,874 and total loss was approximately – $525,441,110.00. Another thing that struck me a few years ago was the infamous Murdoch phone taping scandal. These facts only go to tell us that even though computing is such an enormous boon- when used wrong, it is easy to turn it all the way around 

 

 

 

Sources : 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_International_phone_hacking_scandal

http://www.ic3.gov/media/annualreport/2012_IC3Report.pdf

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/cyber

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2236593/?page=6

 

Faculty and their Duties

Posted: November 13, 2013 in Computer Science

Usually when someone talks to me about faculty the only role I used to imagine them being involved in is plain teaching. That is truly the most obvious role of faculty members as seen from the view point of students. However, apart from having responsibilities to their students – we realize after a while that they have certain responsibilities to the university as well .
Three of these I found out were – Teaching, Research and Service.

Therefore, apart from teaching, we find a lot of faculty members involved in side research work that depends on their field of proficiency. This might be laboratory project research or historical research and also leads a lot of faculty members to publish various types of articles and books based on their findings or their progress. Service, referring usually to the institution itself accounts for their responsibility to actively engage with student advising at times, faculty meetings and course curriculum development and various other duties.

A faculty member I decided to research was Professor Richard Ord – who besides being one of the most liked and sought after professors of CSE at UCSD, also is highly involved in generating a tutor fund for the department. On his website I found out that he has received numerous awards for his teaching and also is highly involved with USENIX Association and maintains a lot of their publications and journals.
Another highly accomplished faculty member I looked into was Professor Christine Alvarado. She has published articles through MIT about abstract computer based design tools for mechanical engineers and preserving the freedom of paper in a computer based sketch tool. I also realized she serves as a co-chair of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Academic Alliance.

Thus it is easy to tell eventually that professors have a lot of stuff on the sidelines that students don’t know about most of the time and if could grab questions from the back of my head that I would want to ask them , I would ask them what made them go into computer science in the first place because to be able to achieve so much they would have had to have a really strong drive. Also I would ask them what baby steps they took that changed their lives as I feels as students, we are all at that level right now.

 

Sources:

http://www.preparing-faculty.org/PFFWeb.Roles.htm

http://www.ucop.edu/academic-personnel/_files/apm/apm-015.pdf

http://cse.ucsd.edu/faculty_profile#top

http://www.jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/faculty/faculty_bios/findprofile.sfe?department=cse&fmp_recid=337

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22Christine+J.+Alvarado%22

http://cseweb.ucsd.edu/users/ricko/

https://www.usenix.org/legacy/publications/publications.html

Some Major Decoding

Posted: October 23, 2013 in Computer Science

There were many different questions that concerned me about being a Computer Science major in the past and there are still a few today. I came into UCSD originally as an ICAM Major (Interdisciplinary Computing and Arts Major). This major seemed to be focused more on the computing aspect of art or digital media, graphic design and fields like that- which is what I thought I wanted at the time. However, finding the cse classes much more entertaining, I switched into CS in my second quarter (before it became impacted).
At the time though, I knew very little about the CS Major and my first shock came when I was actually making a switch as the website asked me to choose between a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. I had no idea that there was even an option to do a B.A in Computer Science. I had to put off switching while I looked up the differences. Going through the website of the CSE department, I realized that apart from one lower division statistics class – there was only a major difference in the two when it came to clusters (or specializations. A BS has very well defined clusters while a B.A to me, seemed more lenient with technical electives. I switched to the B.A program and then two weeks later I switched again to the B.S program and stuck to it.
The reason I picked the B.S program is because I felt that for me having a well defined set of clusters would help me pick what I wanted to specialize in and this brings me to the next question that struck me. What exactly were these clusters and how were they different – all I really knew were there names. However, I ended up finding most of what I needed on the CSE website itself once again. I realized the website had different pages for almost every course it offered. It took me a while but after going through all the course descriptions for the different specializations I had a much better idea about what I would potentially learn in these streams.

Another question I had was in fact about the CS- Bioinformatics major. My roommate being a bio-engineering – bioinformatics major had to take almost all the lower division CS classes I had and wondering why these classes overlapped, I noticed that the CSE department had its own bioinformatics major. I also noticed that even though these were both bioinformatics – the CS department had less bio and more computing in it than the Bio-eng department did (which focused slightly more on the biological effect). That is how I know now what a vastly emerging stream bioinformatics is and that there is a difference if you study it from the CS perspective or from the biology perspective.

I also found out about a lot of different opportunities I wasn’t aware of earlier – such as the Honors Program and Its application process and the vast number of available scholarships. Also I am really glad for the fact that the advisers for the department keep sending out informative emails that they think might be useful as they often help me keep track of campus opportunities.

However, I find that even though the CS department has a brilliant website, it leaves a lot of work for the individual student to do. SO it says that this is the difference between the BA and the BS but does it affect you overall? Would hiring companies still consider you the same as the next applicant with a BS in Computer Science while you have BA? Does the B.S have more of a face value as is the common theory? Also since there are so many specializations with these course descriptions telling us how they work – how do we realize which one has the most scope in the future? Which one is the one students have preferred and succeeded at in the past?

These questions though, I understand, just require more work from an individual for his/her own success. Therefore,  as I correctly found on the internet while I was looking up difference between a B.A and a B.S in computer science, – its the opportunities and resources available that you grasp to actually determine how good you get at something and not what something is called on paper.

Sources :

http://cs.ucsd.edu/node/250

http://cs.ucsd.edu/node/242

http://cs.ucsd.edu/node/1942

http://cs.ucsd.edu/node/269

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/uc-transfers/1508483-ucla-linguistic-computer-science-ba-vs-ucsd-computer-science-bs.html

As a student we may be focused primarily on our classes, but for a practicality associated major like Computer Science, I realize that this is not always the most advantageous option. True it is always good to put hard work into classes and attendance and the like but learning can occur in many ways outside the classroom – and a lot of these ways are tailored to look like what potential employers search for. Fortunately for a lot of, studying here at the University of California San Diego is in itself a direct path to these opportunities that set us apart from the other fish in the sea. Although there are many different ways to gain experience here on campus, there are three ways in particular, which i find extremely useful.

 

 

Firstly – being a tutor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UCSD. The eligibility requirements state that you require a GPA of at least 3.0 to be a computer science tutor.  So if someone is looking at your Resume, they already know you did well on your classes plus the given bonus of wanting to share knowledge and work in a team. Even though the job is a jewel in itself and a desirable qualification, the benefits of tutoring extend beyond the industry in many ways. Tutoring for CSE 11 and for 15L in the past, I realized you need to be working with a lot of different coding techniques and different logic which makes debugging even more of a challenge. Also you form relationships with faculty and with other people smarter and more experienced than you and these relationships are invaluable.

 

Another brilliant opportunity besides the Tutoring is what I see in the Department known as CalIt2. The California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology, located in Atkinson Hall on the campus of UCSD, provides various kinds of research opportunities not only for graduate students but also for undergraduates. I had some of my friends enrolled in the Summer Research Program and noticed that this was another of those fields where you can be really exposed to a work atmosphere. Unlike other departments restricted to UCSD, Calit2 works with industry partners from start-up to large companies in a variety of industry niches. Some of these names include the big bosses like Microsoft, Toshiba, Nissan, Sony etc. For CS majors interested in research CalIt2 provides the perfect destination to make a great start straight into that direction.

 

The third thing that I think prepares you and shows people that you have that extra edge is being part of an organizational group. There are a lot of pre-professional organizations on campus and a lot of times employers are looking for projects – individual projects or group projects that you do outside of your course curriculum. A lot of these can be through a student organization. For example, DECaF is the largest career fair. People go there looking for jobs or internships. However, the Triton Engineering Student Council organizes this fair and that is a difference. Women in Computing from UCSD recently attended the Annual Grace Hopper Celebration. That is a difference too. Its not only the networking you get, but also the leadership skills you develop that set you apart. Overall it is not very tough to get involved professionally before you even graduate if you are looking in the right places. The good thing about UCSD is that – all those right places – are not very far off.

 

Sources : –

http://www.calit2.net/partners/index.php

http://www.calit2.net/education/ucsd/ugrad/index.php

http://cse.ucsd.edu/TutorsReaders

http://tesc.ucsd.edu/about

http://cse.ucsd.edu/node/2124

http://jacobsschoolofengineering.blogspot.com/2013/10/jacobs-school-computer-science.html

Edsger Dijkstra, a famous award-winning computer scientist once said, “Computer Science is no more about computers than Astronomy is about telescopes”.

Usually Computer Science is almost directly interpreted as programming. Knowing how to write and execute coded programs and create something out of it – like a working app for cell phones perhaps – is generally what is associated with a “typical” computer science major.
To some extent, I have found that this is indeed true. Application Software Development and Systems Software Development form an integral part of the sphere of careers available to CS majors and do place an emphasis on logical programming. Apart from these though, a list of other career options that I found interesting to read about were careers in Computer Science Theory, Web Design, Video Game Design etc. However, two of the most particular careers that have a base within computer science and caught my interest were Cryptography and  Computer Graphics.

Quite frankly I first heard of the extremely vast field of Cryptography in a science fiction novel (specifically Angels and Demons by Dan Brown) but it was later that I sat down to analyze how much of it was related to computer science. It Described as a “decoder skilled in the analysis of codes and cryptograms”, to be a Cryptologist, one needs to have a degree in either Computer Science, Computer Programming, Mathematics, Engineering etc. An essential part of user security in this age where privacy is becoming a major concern, organizations offering internships and job openings in this field include the big names like the NSA (National Security Association) and the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). Multiple sources suggest however,  that even though a BS is enough for an entry level position, higher offices might require a PhD which is not surprising considering the vast knowledge -pool this field accesses information from. If you are a part of this field, you would probably be working with a lot of high level classified information as most companies are government or military agencies. On the other hand smaller spheres include, banks, IT encryption software companies and basically anything to do with security handling.

Cryptography focusing primarily on math, code, and puzzles, has on its other end – Computer Graphics. Almost a morph between art and computer science, computer graphics has become big, bright and demanding in the last few decades. Most widely related to simulations, special effects and media, this field shows how varied CS can get as it introduces a whole other kind of design and requirement.  With industries like video gaming booming, this field provides competitive pay and potential for growth.  Many specialized paths include, web design, technical animation, construction graphics etc.  Even within technical animation, it splits into texture design, character animation, story-line etc. Recent popularity has led to introduction of undergraduate majors like Computer Game Science in UC Irvine and Computer Graphics Technology in Purdue University. In this field one will probably be working with various people not necessarily associated with CS.

These two varied careers only go to show the extent to which the computer science influence penetrates the job market – affecting almost every distinct sphere of study.

 

Online Resources –

http://www.ics.uci.edu/ugrad/degrees/degree_cgs.php

http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/industryinsider8.htm

https://tech.purdue.edu/degrees/computer-graphics-technology

http://careersthatdontsuck.com/2007/02/24/career-profile-cryptologist/

http://money.howstuffworks.com/how-to-be-a-cryptologist.htm

http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=cryptologist

http://www.ed.ac.uk/polopoly_fs/1.56838!fileManager/Careers_in_Cryptology.pdf