Computer Science Obsession
Before I knew what I wanted my major to be, I took my first Computer Science class (CS201) with Dr. Kathy Macropol (featured in the video). She’s an amazing professor, and I enjoyed the coding assignments so much that I picked Computer Science as my major.
In fact, I’ve really enjoyed a lot of the classes that I’ve taken for my major, and want to tell you about a few of them:
CS201, 202, and 203 are required classes. They are the most important ones. These classes teach you about programming in the java language and, along the way, our teachers illustrate advanced concepts that are transferrable between coding languages. The ideas are the blueprint, and the coding languages are like different tools that can be used to construct a building. You can use Craftsman or DuWalt to get a job done. Some people prefer one over another, but they both do the same things.
CS203, which I took with Dr. Macropol, is a class with a lot of advanced concepts, such as sorting methods and different ways to make coding algorithms more efficient for faster software. I’m glad I had it with Dr. Macropol because that kind of abstract thinking can be a challenge, but her teaching style makes it as enjoyable as it can be.
Databases is a required course that I also took with Dr. Macropol. It teaches us to use the language SQL to interact with databases, programs that hold and organize large amounts of data. This is very important and a useful skill because nearly every company has need of someone who can manage a database.
By contrast, data mining, also taught by Dr. Macropol, focuses on collecting and interpreting data rather than organizing it. In that class, we learned to use a program called weka to produce statistical information about large amounts of data that was fed to it. We collected this data from Twitter and other social networks and gained highly desirable skills in both research and practical applications.
An example of a research application is my Capstone project, which I’m working on now. My partner and I are working under Dr. Macropol to collect view-count data from Youtube, which can be used to predict popularity of video games and movies based on their trailers. An example of a practical application can be found in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when they use Twitter data to attempt to map the locations and timeline of certain disease outbreaks.
Some classes stand out among the rest. Bioinformatics, for example, consists of half bio majors and half computer science majors, and is co-taught by Dr. Carlos Ortiz, a Computer Science professor, and Dr. Sheryl Smith, a biology professor. In this class, each major learns a bit of what the other already knows, and we use our combined knowledge to apply data mining techniques onto DNA, completing new research on genomes.
The class has inspired me to pursue a master’s degree in Bioinformatics after graduating from Arcadia. That’s what stands out to me about the Computer Science program— it’s fun and challenging. Being able to enjoy solving puzzles for a coding project is an important thing: If you get frustrated and hate it, you’ll likely hate being a Computer Science major and working in tech.