What is Computer Science?

"What is Computer Science?".... I hear that a lot.

What comes to mind when you think about Computer Science? Many think of white dress shirts with pocket protectors, black, thick rimmed glasses, well oiled hair, little or no social skills..... Others think of the newer breed of computer science nerds that would fit in well in an episode of Big Bang Theory.

Stereotypes and false assumptions have kept many men, women, and kids away from the study of computer science because they feel the don’t have what it takes to step up to the plate. Or, from the outside, it looks so boring they wouldn’t even want to try.

Fact # 1:
No one is born a computer science genius. Honestly, most students entering their first CS class only have a basic knowledge of a single programing language or they have clocked so many hours playing video games and have a basic understanding of “mods.” Then there are the ones who have built a couple of gaming computers but they still don’t understand the method of the build. For instance, too many standoffs applied to the motherboard causes the system to glitch or not post at all. If they had a rudimentary understanding of electricity, then they would be able to diagnose their problem.

Fact #2:
Jobs requiring a computer science degree are growing exponentially. In the last 40 to 50 years, one thing has stayed constant: the need for people with computer science skills. I’m not just talking about programers, either.

The area of computer science has many fields. Here is the basic breakdown of the science into its main departments:

Computer science: information & organizational theory
Computer engineering: hardware architecture
Software engineering: study of the use of computer programs & how to create them

So, really, What is Computer Science?!

Okay, to many that may still sound very abstract, but let me break it down even more:

Computer science: studying numerical methods of increasing computational speed (FTL faster than light technology); encryption methods; coding for error detection; machine intelligence; algorithm models to aid in data compression or graphics acceleration; organization models for quick access to vast amounts of stored data

Computer engineering: design and test new hardware; creating new hardware like the current group of Accelerated Processing Units which combine CPU and GPU for efficiency and speed in order to drive the new wave of virtual reality products

Software engineering: developing specialized software packages for professional fields such as medical or aerospace; developing gaming software; developing the evolution of the operating system

Jobs related to the computer science field are not going away. We will continue to need computers, their architects, and repair personel. There are plenty of niches in computer science to satisfy any curiosity and it doesn’t hurt that there are many lucrative career opportunities opening monthly.

If you have a natural curiosity for how things work or maybe your interest lies in problem solving, computer science may be a good fit for you. And, while math and science are important to CS, it is also important to have a foundation in liberal arts as well. This aids in understanding real world technology applications and the social implications for technology.


If you are still wondering "What is Computer Science?".....

A good TV show that depicts the use of computer science in everyday life is Numb3rs. This show ran from 2005 to 2010 on CBS and can now be found on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. It was excellently written and made math and science exciting. It is definitely not the dry, boring math and science we were subjected to in school. Take a look at an episode or two and check back here for our introductory courses that will let you get your feet wet in the CS pool without fear of any “geek shaming.”

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