The Importance of Computer Science Education

Computer science is a young discipline and only 70 years old. But its
impact on our society is more than any other fields. Any human domains
including communication, education, health, and even entertainment
have advanced exponentially with the invention of computers and the
Internet. The world wide web allows us to interact with one another
over very long distance around the world within split seconds through
the information superhighway. Computer chips and integrated circuits
enabled the development of guidance system that puts the mankind into
space. Since the advent of computing, the technology has disrupted
mankind itself at an astonishing rate with no hint of slowing down.

As we enter deeper into the digital age, computers have become the
fabric of our society. Mobile devices such as smart phones have
evolved from tools merely used for making calls to ubiquitous personal
assistance devices that drive our everyday tasks. And these devices
are getting better by literally devouring our data generated from
us. According to the Domo, a software computer specialized in business
intelligence, the world generated about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data
a day in 2017. This number keeps growing every year as the number of
connected devices grows.

Computers get better not only with new features added by humans but
also with algorithms that can learn from our data and make decisions
with minimum human intervention. Machine learning is a branch of
artificial intelligence where computers apply statistical learning
techniques to recognize patterns in data. Amazon, the biggest online
retailer, applies machine learning algorithms to predict and recommend
you item you might want to buy by learning from the previous users or
from you as you interact with the services. Precision medicine, touted
as the healthcare of tomorrow, is the personalized medicine where
treatments are tailored to individual patients by accurately modeling
patients’ state by combining phenotype and genotype data. This advance
in medicine would not be possible without the computational models and
statistical tools powered by machine learning. Machine learning is
everywhere now and so there is a huge demand for data scientists and
engineers who can apply machine learning technologies.

Learn to code

Undoubtedly, the skills needed for engineering such smart systems are
must-have skills for this digital age. For aspiring engineers,
learning a programming language is a good start. The following lists
10 programming languages that get most pull requests on Github, which
roughly reflects current popular programming languages. If you want
to pursue a career in computer science, it is a good idea to start
learning a popular language.

Rank Programming Language Percentage
1 JavaScript 22.290%
2 Python 15.823%
3 Java 10.054%
4 Ruby 7.144%
5 PHP 7.003%
6 Go 6.792%
7 C++ 6.653%
8 C 3.728%
9 C# 3.406%
10 TypeScript 3.382%

However, there is no such thing as being too young to learn how to
code. In United States, even children in elementary schools are
learning how to code and the basic of computer programming. After all,
programming at its heart is about problem solving. Even President
Obama asked everyone in America to learn, calling for $4 billion to
bring access to computing education to every child in America:

Even if you do not want to pursue a career in Computer Science, you
can never get wrong with learning programming skills. There is a big
demand for scientists and engineers with programming skills. If you
are a physicist, you are probably using computer simulation to study
complex systems. In biology, big data is becoming a big thing in
research areas such as genome sequencing, protein folding and
computational drug design.

“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a
computer, because it teaches you how to think. I view computer
science as a liberal art.” – Steve Jobs

There is a Chinese proverb that says “Give a man a fish and you feed
him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

This proverb emphasizes that education should at the forefront when
acquiring our life skills. Mankind has come a long way passing
knowledge from generations to generations. First, we learnt how to use
tools to get what was available to us. Then we learnt how to make tools
that made better things from what was available to us. Now we evolve
to making machines that will help us automate the whole process
without human intervention. Ability to make such machines is an
evolutional step and learning how to accomplish this is an essential
skill making programming the new literacy. So my extension for the
proverb is “Teach a man how to fish and he will fish for a
lifetime. Teach a man how to program and he will make a machine fish
for him.”

Cheers!

References:

Data Never Sleeps 5.0

Github Language Stats