Why I am in the computer field? In some ways this is a long story and you could say I just stumbled along. Somehow for some reason at this moment this is what I am doing but I am unsure of what the future may hold. Life has strange ways of showing you where it is thinks you might go. Something about me before the rest of the story is that I am indecisive. Decision making is not my forte.
All decisions I guess start in high school. It is then that you start deciding what courses you would take. It is then that you should start to figure out what you are good at and what you’ll like to pursue since it is not possible to do everything. For me science and math courses were interesting. There was variety in the subjects learnt and a set answer to all things. It was different from art or language courses where there is an element of unpredictability. Back then, while looking at those potential courses there was a course in Introduction to Computers that struck out as being different. It taught me some basics in computer science field and I learnt Pascal. Looking back now to my brother and his high school course decisions I wonder if I should have ventured into the basement of the school and taken the Technological Design course? The slight description in the course calendar wasn’t descriptive enough but now it does look interesting since it involves CAD design and robotic competitions.
Anyway, my high school was not big on computer science. After I had left, the computer science courses in grade 11 and 12 ceased to run since there was not enough student interest. Luckily I had the opportunity to take them! It was interesting to see that a simple few lines you type here and there could lead you to a program that does something on the screen. In grade 12 I did all the extra assignments where I had the chance to program a solution to the 8 queens problem, some sort of graphical planetary orbit program, and an AI tic-tac-toe game. Looking back I could say I enjoyed the class and the material was different from the math and science courses but I never thought about going into the computer field.
For some, it seems like it is so easy to decide what they’ll do since they have a goal in mind. Me I didn’t have any. But what if you had a goal and were unable to achieve it?
When I was applying for universities, I didn’t know where I should be going. Indecisive me made a decision back in grade 10 that I would take all the math and science courses since I couldn’t decide between biology, chemistry or physics and calculus, data management or geometry. What seemed like a great decision then didn’t seem so great in the end when you noticed you didn’t really decide where you’ll like to go since all you had done was kept a bunch of doors open. However, during the process you didn’t narrow down on what you are going to do.
Maybe that is why I ended up in Engineering Science at the University of Toronto. It was the only program I could come up with in Toronto that would have allowed me to delay my decision and there’s always the chance I would not get in when I applied. With a background in math and science I could had gone to an Arts and Science faculty but it would have been too broad and involved too many decisions where you had the chance to switch your specialization/major/minor quite quickly. With Engineering Science I still took all these math and science courses I had before but now they will be more advanced and maybe I would be able to decide on my option after 2 years. It is for this reason that Engineering Science gave its students a breadth of courses in the first 2 years before depth in the next 2 years.
But as usual, history repeats itself and 2 years pass and I don’t know which option I should venture in. Should you make that decision based on certain courses you have taken, the professor that had taught it, the material that you learnt and enjoyed, of the future potential of the subject? Had I asked myself these questions along the way? No, so where should I go – Aerospace, Biomed, Computer, Electrical, Infrastructure, Manufacturing, Nanotechnology or Physics? I never did understand the dynamics course but should that rule out a whole aerospace option? Bio lab has this level of unpredictability when things could go wrong…. Debugging could be most tedious and time consuming…. Circuit connections and tracing could take forever… Had you ever had to redraw the same drawing a dozen times? Factories, productions, and supply chain management? Small-scale design and materials? Calculations and lab reports? No option doesn’t have its own pitfall so where should I go to? It is always possible to change your mind during the summer – all you need to do now is decide on an option and the courses you’ll take.
So why not the computer option? The computer courses weren’t that bad. With that time passes, I stick with the option but I still wonder what if I had done this instead…. During my internship year, I applied to companies in the computer field and accepted a software engineering position. However I wonder what if I had done something in computer hardware instead – maybe robotics? Even within an option there are more options as you delve into the field. Somewhere along the line as you are picking and choosing those computer options you were suppose to be making those decisions. But once again, being in a diverse program limits your opportunity to dive into the subject. However, a broad background has its own advantages in that it proves you are able to learn and think in terms of the big picture – or at least that is what I think.
Once again I am at a crossroad. I have graduated. Should I apply to graduate studies or the workforce? In what area, specializing in which field, and located where in the world? Life is full of too many questions.
Nancy is a graduate from Engineering Science program in the computer option at the University of Toronto. Currently she is wondering what it is in life she wants to achieve and where in the world she would like to go. Work or graduate studies? When? Where? What? Who? How?
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