In our last lecture for CSIT Intro, Dr. Brown encourages, “find something you are interested in and Do IT!” It wasn’t the first time, I’ve heard him say it but it reminded me of something I heard two weeks earlier. I was eating lunch at a family gathering. My sister and her husband invited both sides of their family for an Easter brunch. Both sides are large families and the range of attendees was newborns to grandparents with a large contingent of college students to recent college grads. Cousin Bill was talking to Wyman about his upcoming graduation in logistics. Bill was under the impression that graduating from UT Business in Logistics was a pretty big deal since UT’s program ranks in the top 10 in the U.S.(It may be top 5?). Aunt Mary Ellen says that she heard that the starting salaries for grads was upward of $60,000. She asks him if he is pretty excited about his job prospects and was he interviewing for jobs? Wyman says, “It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I’m going to go to graduate school” in basically basket weaving. That’s not the field he said and that is not the point. The point is, Wyman has spent four plus years going to school in a program that many would love to be admitted to. A top college in a hot field and he is not interested in pursuing the best job that he can get. So, why did he do it?
One of the great things about this introductory course is the fact that there was exposure to all things computing. From bits and bytes to programming robots. There was quite a depth of the knowledge presented in this course. Gaming, Social consciousness, the Singularity, Big Brother, Code crackers, hackers, 3D printers, etc. There was a lot of topics that I had never been introduced to. When I get some free time, there are mega links that I can revisit and some that I never got a chance to review. Even if I just have a few once I open one, it leads to so many more links that can be found at the sites I visit. How many days would it take to hear all the TED talks. As it been said, anything I want to learn, I can find on the internet. I guess I have known that to some extent. When I have had to figure out how to get spyware off of my computer, I have been to Forums that have introduced me to “Super-AntiSpyware” and “Malware” and others that really do the job that the crappy McAfee was supposed to.
There is a downside to just learning on your own. People don’t hire computer programmers into well paid jobs at established companies when they are self-taught. They may know what they are doing, but there is a defined path one is expected to take. But one of the better aspect of going to school to learn something is being able to learn from someone who already knows and can teach and lead over the pitfalls and valleys that a self teacher can stumble into and never get out. I speak from experience. I tried to teach myself the database program Access. I had some success but I never got the tables right and kept falling into the same bad habits. I bet I spent two weeks working to develop a database for my sales reports only in the end to give up. I needed someone to guide me through it.
Some of this course was difficult to me. Programming in Alice. Scratch was not as difficult but synchronizing Sprites was time-consuming. The Lego Robot was a challenge but with a team to work on the problems, it made it go faster. Team work definitely facilitates quicker learning it seems. But nothing is impossible to learn if there is a real interest to learn. That brings me back to Wyman.
Wyman to me seems to have just been going through the motions. He seems to think that working in logistics for life is going to be like being under house arrest but being paid. This is got to be vastly short sighted and there is a real lack of imagination there. This is something I have seen in other “kids” his age. There are preconceived notions of what there jobs are going to be like. Clock in and clock out for life in a job. If I were going to graduate in logistics, I’d take a job for $60 grand a year and if I didn’t like it, I find something in logistics that didn’t tie me to a desk. (And here is where I’ll tie this into this class…) Steves Jobs and Wozniak are perfect examples of people who dispensed with preconceived notions of what could be possible. Jobs wasn’t confined to being a Calligraphy expert for the rest of his life. They used what they learned to get to the jumping off point in their lives and then they jumped. It was the same with all the creative minds in computing. Randy Pausch had big dreams and found ways to make them come true. Turing did the same. I think that what this class taught more than computing was to go for it. Dream big and find a way to make it happen. Create. Create. Create. Program your self.