As a child of the Millennials generation, I have been dealing with computers my whole life. Dr. Jill Novak, from University of Phoenix and Texas A&M University said,“[Millennials] prefer digital literacy as they grew up in a digital environment. Have never known a world without computers.”(1) My experience has been no different from her statement; I have always been fascinated by how computers work, so naturally, I have always wanted to learn as much as I can about them. For this reason, as a student in the Software Engineering program in the Schmid College of Science and Technology in Chapman University, I want to see what motivates other students to study computer science, how this major has increased not only in Chapman but in other universities around the world, and what the definition of success means to those people.
Many experts call this period of time the Computer Revolution, because of all of the advancements made in the past thirty years related to computers. The computer science major was first introduced in 1962 at the University of Purdue, as people realized that they needed more people who have a higher education in computers. This realization was primarily an effect of the advancements made during the early 1900s, when Charles Babbage created the analytical engine and Ada Lovelace explained what the analytical engine did. The world moved from analytical to digital computers during World War II, where Americans tried to find a better way to capture German communication. Alan Turing was able to do so by creating the first electronic digital computer, the Enigma machine. This in turn allowed mathematicians to more accurately pinpoint enemy positions which helped the Allied forces win the war, launching the world into the digital age.
Consequently, computer science has become one of the most important fields of study, becoming an important major in universities. According to the College Board, the computer science major was created in order to “learn about computer systems and the way humans and computers interact from a scientific perspective. Instruction includes programming and the theory and design of software.”(4) Today, the computer science major has become such a broad subject that other majors have been created as its subset, such as Computer Forensics, Computer Software Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Game and Interactive Media Design, Information Science, Mathematics Teacher Education, and Neuroscience. This development has led the field to become highly successful due to the world’s dependence on computers, the increase in job opportunities, and the perception of job security in the marketplace.
The world is only becoming more dependable on technology. As said by the Association for Computing Machinery, “the possibilities for future developments are expected to be even greater than they have been in the past.”(5) The application of smart machines seems limitless today. We have made computers so small that we can hold them in our hands and talk to other people who are far away. We made TVs that have cable and dish satellites in order to watch the same TV shows at the same time as other people. Computers allowed the world to become more advanced while at the same time making the world extremely dependable on them.
Today, most people can not live without their computers. The world uses computers for almost anything. Teenages use them in order to keep up with social media and use the internet to get any information they need for school. According to a survey done by Dr. Brent Conrad, a clinical psychologist, “by age eight, 96% of children have watched TV, 90% have used a computer, 81% have played console video games, and 60% have played games or used apps on a portable device (cell phone, handheld gaming system, iPod, or tablet)”(9). Adults have also become just as depended on computers as children have. RealityMine published a survey showing that 74% of adults use their computers for work. Militaries use computing systems in everything they do, and would not be able to function properly without it. As E. Braden Hendricks says, “Never before has one thing changed the world so fundamentally and quickly as the modern computer”(3). The world today depends on computers and electronic devices and for that reason the major of computer science has a great future. No matter what you want to become, having knowledge on computing is helpful. For example, if you want to be a scientist, having knowledge of computing can help you conduct better research, environmental monitoring, and finding treatments, cures, and vaccines for various diseases just like AIDS and the flu.
Understanding the different elements of computing is just another necessary skill set in order for individuals to be considered educated in the 21st century. The traditional definition of “being educated” is synonymous with being literate. According to Merriam Webster, the definition of literate means “having knowledge or competence” and in this century, this does not only mean that people need to be able to read of write, but it also includes the ability to compute. Therefore, for countries who want to stay competitive in the world market, it has become a requirement to create an educated workforce which will be able to grow the economy in the segments that have the most potential. The world has realized that the definition of literacy has changed and in order to keep up with the world, many universities such as Chapman University have put computer science classes as part of their General Education. These are classes that are a requirement for students to graduate, and the goal of these classes is to create a well-rounded and educated student body who will be able to contribute even in fields outside of their focus.
Computer science has therefore seen a significant increase in job and internship opportunities in the US. Jobs requiring a Bachelor Degree in computer science or other related majors are among the highest paid and in-demand jobs today. According to Forbes, in 2013, the average starting salary for anyone who has a bachelor’s degree was $45,000 while the average starting salary of computer science majors is $60,000. This is $15,000 more on average, and in most big cities, the starting salary for computer scientists is even higher. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2012 to 2022, the job market will increase from 12 percent to 37 percent. Right now, there are more companies searching for people with computing experience than people looking for jobs with the experience needed. So it only makes sense that job searchers have a high chance of landing jobs in this field. ECPI University and Rasmussen College show that a degree in computer science does not mean people will work on just computers. There are jobs in other fields that a degree in computer science will help with. For example Digital Media Artists, Computer Graphics and Animation specialists, Network Security Analysts, Game Developers, Healthcare Information Technology Solutions Provider, and even Bankers/Investment Bankers all benefit from having a computer science background. Computer science majors fit a broad set of personalities as these jobs can either have a lot of collaborative or individual work, therefore it allows different types of people to be interested, study, and work in this field.
Lastly, individuals in the computer science field are known to have the most job security and job satisfaction, because generally speaking they feel like they are making a positive change in the world. Job security is one aspect that can provide stability to people while they are working and make for a happier life. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between the years of 2014 and 2024, there will be an increase of 25 percent in job growth in the field of computer science while there will on be an increase of 6.5 in all the fields combined. Employees in the computer science field know that there is a high demand for more workers in their field and the job growth is increasing, so they are more confident that they will not lose their jobs. Another aspect that makes computers science jobs have a good reputation is that they tend to have extremely nice workspaces. For example, Google, which hires thousands of computer engineers, is known to have the best workspaces with pools, gyms, sofas, and basically anything needed in order to increase the happiness, and therefore productivity, or their programmers. Even though the workload is relatively heavy for programmers, companies make sure they do everything they can to make these individuals happy, because they are integral to their operations. These types of perks attract many individuals to tech companies, which is why we see today an increase of computer science majors hoping to land these jobs one day comfortably.
The computer science major has become a major that is in almost every college. It has one of the most highest paid jobs in the market and the demand for these jobs will keep increasing in the future. Programming is challenging at times but individuals in this field need to be good at problem solving and “thinking outside the box” in order to be able to solve problems with their programs, which is another reason students are attracted to learning computer science. Future analysis is required to understand exactly why many people are studying computer science today at Chapman. More research is needed to understand why computer science is a popular major at Chapman despite the gender and racial gap in the field, the negative health side effects of looking at screens all day, and the constantly changing knowledge set that is expected of employees. These are questions that I would like to be able to look into more and how they translate to the academic world at Chapman.
- Novak, Jill. “The Six Living Generations In America – Marketing Teacher.” Marketing Teacher. N.p., 02 May 2016. Web. 31 Oct. 2016. http://www.marketingteacher.com/the-six-living-generations-in-america/
- Molnar 06/01/97, By Andrew. “Computers in Education: A Brief History — THE Journal.” THE Journal. Public Sector Media Group, 01 June 1997. Web. 31 Oct. 2016. https://thejournal.com/articles/1997/06/01/computers-in-education-a-brief-history.aspx
- Hendric, E. Braden. History of Computer Science. Brookline, MA: Christopher Morgan Rare, 1985. Web. http://everythingcomputerscience.com/books/PDFs/History_CS.pdf
- “Computer Science College Degree Programs – The College Board.” Computer Science College Degree Programs – The College Board. College Board, n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2016. https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/computer-information-sciences-computer-science
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- “Computer-related Injuries.” Department of Health & Human Services. Department of Health & Human Services, 31 May 2015. Web. 07 Nov. 2016. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/computer-related-injuries
- Conrad, Dr. Brent. “Statistics on Children’s Use of TV, Internet, & Video Games – TechAddiction.” Statistics on Children’s Use of TV, Internet, & Video Games – TechAddiction. N.p., 08 Oct. 2016. Web. 08 Nov. 2016. http://www.techaddiction.ca/media-statistics.html
- Conyers, Katie, and Sarah Jessup. “Computers’ Role in the Medical World.” Computers’ Role in the Medical World. UNC, 08 Sept. 2014. Web. 08 Nov. 2016. http://www.unc.edu/~kconyers/comp101/project1/
- “Some Careers in Computer and Information Science You May Not Have Thought About | ECPI University.” Some Careers in Computer and Information Science You May Not Have Thought About | ECPI University. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2016. https://www.ecpi.edu/blog/some-careers-computer-and-information-science-you-may-not-have-thought-about
- Ericksen, Kristina. “Rasmussen College.” Careers in Computer Science: 4 Facts on This Flourishing Field You Can No Longer Ignore. N.p., 06 Sept. 2016. Web. 09 Nov. 2016. http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/technology/blog/careers-in-computer-science-face-the-facts/
- EMPLOYMENT PROJECTIONS — 2014-24. N.p.: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8 Dec. 2015. PDF. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ecopro.pdf