John Irving once wrote, “If you presume to love something, you must love the process of it much more than you love the finished product.”
In a way, my whole life has been spent solving puzzles and processing things. At a young age, I found I had a love for math. When I applied to the University of Washington, I knew I wanted to do some sort of science or engineering- a major built upon solving puzzles with math. However, I was unsure what type of engineering I wanted to do. Civil engineering was the type I knew most about, so I applied for Direct Freshman Admissions. While I enjoyed my freshman year classes, especially math and chemistry, I did not know what being passionate was until I signed up for my first intro coding class, CSE 142.
I never intended to like computer science. Growing up, my dad was a software engineer; his work seemed too hard and complicated for me to understand, and I wanted to be different. Throughout my life, various people have suggested I learn to code, or take a computer science course. Yet convinced that it was not something I would like, I turned it down every time. Up until the first day of CSE 142, computer science was still on the outskirts of my mind. However, after two weeks of class, I was hooked. I had finally found a passion. Computer science made so much sense to me; breaking down one large problem into smaller components was something I had been doing my whole life. Coding is the first language that has come naturally to me.
With each lecture, my excitement for computer science grew. I’d start each assignment as soon as possible; it was the highlight of my day. I loved learning about new approaches –lists, trees, hash tables, maps – and CSE 390 opened up so many possibilities as to how advanced computer science can be applied to everything from picking movies to curing cancer. I found myself wanting to learn more with each new concept introduced to me. Really, coding is fun. Creating something and being able to share what you made with so many people, and have them be able to work along with you on the same project, is so unique.
I love computer science because it is a creative puzzle. If my program isn’t working, I get to dive right back into it to figure out what went wrong. It isn’t some great unknown, it is something I made, it’s logical, and I know if I work hard enough I’ll figure it out eventually. Part of what is exciting about the process is that there is always something that can be improved upon and there is always more to learn. Maybe the code I wrote works in almost all cases, but some one else may propose a special case where it doesn’t work – that’s exciting because it opens up a whole new puzzle. There is always something to work towards solving, and I love that.
While I am thankful civil engineering brought me to computer science, there is nothing else I would rather devote my time and energy to than the process of creating something in computer science. While I may not get things on the first try, that’s the beauty of it. True passion is true love, if you are passionate about something, you love to fail at it as much as you love to succeed. You love creating and debugging as much as you love when your code works. With computer science, I love every step of the way to reach the final product - I love the process and I fully believe everyone else should give themselves a chance to love it as well.