We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth.
— Vernor Vinge
A year ago, I was lost, quite literally. I found myself in Okinawa, in the oceanside hideaway of a grizzled Japanese man known as Popeye. Although the gnarled hands, wild hair, rough skin and round belly implicated he was a man of the earth, the mountains of books, tokens, and trinkets scattered throughout his ramshackle hut showed me he was of diverse interest. He spoke with a kindheartedness and intelligence, a glint in his beady eyes that I had never seen before. He asked if I liked reggae and offered me a scotch. I agreed to the reggae, but turned down the drink. I wanted a clear head for what was sure to be the night of a lifetime.
Among philosophies and issues our discussion revolved around that night, he proffered some of his own adventures and experiences. Among his stories, there is something he said to me something that I can’t quite forget. “The two most important words in the English language are responsibility and obsession – Responsibility not only toward the world, but yourself. Don’t rely on luck! Find happiness that you believe in – And obsession – Find something you can do it, and put everything you’ve got into it.”
A year later, and I found myself in a much different place. Last I looked at the clock, it was 2:30 AM. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught flashes of lightning projected across the Puget Sound followed by rumbling thunder. But my focus was not on the looming spectacle, but the screen in front of me. Earlier that day, I thought of an idea. Sixteen hours later, the thought was blooming into something real. I couldn’t take my eyes off it, couldn’t stop my mind from racing, couldn’t stop my fingers from working. This inspiration was coming from somewhere deep, and I just couldn’t shut it off.
A blank canvas, an open book, endless possibilities. It’s almost intimidating, the amount of freedom. Technical skill and creative ability are stretched as far as your limits. It’s just a matter of problems waiting to be solved, superior solutions to be formulated.
Coming into this summer, I was determined to take a hold of those words – responsibility and obsession – I told my boss when we first met, if I’m going to do something, I want to do it right. I’ve received the unique opportunity of learning from the best, and I couldn’t be more enthralled and inspired by the work we’re doing here. Our motivations are pure, our goals simple – all the focus is on the journey. It’s been extremely challenging, but the reward has been fulfilling on both a personal and professional level. Simply put, working in the tech industry is awesome. So why should you be interested?
From design to development, hardware to software, the palm of your hand to the cloud, computers are everywhere, influencing all factors of our daily life. Computation has found root in nearly every aspect of modern industry, from engineering to manufacturing to distribution, across fields and disciplines. There is hardly any aspect of our society that computer science has no influence over. Because of this, it’s one of the best-paying, most employable job markets out there. Because just as society needs computer systems, they will need computer scientists to build them. That’s where we come in.
Even though Computer Science has only recently been recognized by Whitman College as an official program, the interest among the student body has been piqued, with overwhelming enrollment in our introductory classes. Our incoming class indicates computer science as their primary interest. Although many would consider computer science to be at odds with the spirit of a liberal arts college, students soon find there is an artistry and honesty in computer science that is liberating from the world of established arts and academia.
But too often people are frightened away by computer science, and it’s hard to blame them. From the exterior, computation seems unforgiving and unapproachable. The truth is, computer science can be anything you want it to be! You have to learn how to talk like a computer before you tell it do something. But once you’ve learned the language, the possibilities are limitless. There are so many great ideas waiting inside the minds of students, computer science is an amazing way to explore, implement, and share those great visions. It’s definitely not for everybody, but it’s for a lot more people than they give themselves credit for.
There are many exciting prospects for the future in the world of Computer Science. Virtual and augmented realities, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence, each of which have the potential to completely change the way we perceive and interact with the world. We have the opportunity to become the builders for a new generation of human experience. The internet, home computers, smart phones, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, have all come about within our time. What will we have created when our time has passed? Humanity’s technical progression has taken a hold of a rate of growth that has catapulted us beyond what previous generations considered possible. Who knows what wonders are waiting to be discovered, what tools have yet to be created, what problems are waiting to be solved? The future is ours for the taking.
For that, I thank my boss Paul Carduner, for sharing his time and imparting his wisdom over these past few months. These are more valuable than any gift, and is not a debt that is easily repaid. I will show my appreciation through passion and dedication for my work.
And to Popeye, your words are not forgotten.
To see a more technical write-up of this internship, see the following blog post
If you’re interested in what we’re working on, see the following website.