Hear from three recipients of the Computer Science Student of the Year award at the University of Wyoming, all of whom share their reasons behind choosing to major in a challenging field.
Legg, originally from Laramie, Wyo., graduated in 2015 with a degree in computer science. She works as a Systems Engineer at a high frequency trading firm in New York City, building software to automate the work to deploy, maintain, and monitor servers around the world.
What made you go into computer science?
“I always loved solving problems, and computer science became the answer to some of my biggest questions. You press a button on a machine that you use every day, click a few times, and suddenly have access to the whole world. It's magical, right? I needed to know how that worked.
“The challenge then became the breadth of the field: I didn't have any idea what specifically I liked or was good at. The solution for this was based in the diversity of UW's computer science curriculum. The required courses charted a path that enforced fundamentals while simultaneously exposing me to many parts of the computer science spectrum. Once I had a knowledge base, I was able to take many electives within the department to further explore things I liked or had more interest in. Without that flexibility built into the program, I'm not sure I would have discovered which facet I enjoyed most.”
Richards came to UW from Jackson, Wyo., earning a computer science degree in 2016. She now is an engineer at Qualcomm in San Diego, tasked with work on the Linux Audio team to develop audio support within the Android Linux kernel.
What made you go into computer science?
“I had always wanted to work with technology. When I started at UW, I couldn't decide between computer science and computer engineering. After half a semester of COSC 1010 I felt that I was peeking through a keyhole into the world that I wanted to be a part of and I declared my major as computer science. I've loved it ever since.
“The best part were the friends I made and the community that is there. Everyone was so friendly and so many people loved computer science and wanted to help everyone love it as much as they did. When waiting for classes to start the whole room would be having what felt like a giant conversation where everyone was talking and hanging out. It generally works out where you move with a group through classes so people would be talking about homework from different classes, funny lectures or just about anything else. Everyone was a friend.”
Ernst grew up in Laramie, Wyo., and graduated from UW in 2015 with a computer science degree. She works at Laramie-based Happy Jack Software, as a web designer and coder.
What made you choose computer science?
“I mainly went into computer science because I didn't know what other degree to choose. When I really thought about it the only majors I could think of myself getting at the time were teaching, cooking, Japanese language or computer science. Since I get bad stage fright when it comes to public speaking, and because they don't have a cooking or Japanese major available at UW, computer science was the only one left. I also figured I enjoyed using computers and getting on the Internet, so I figured I might as well choose it as my major. It also seemed like I could at least make a decent amount of money once I got a job, so I went for it.
“The best part about computer science at UW was definitely the community aspect of it. Most of the time as you went through the course work you ended up having all the same people in all your classes, so everyone got to know each other with class sizes of 20-30. When you went to the lab on the fourth floor of the Engineering Building to do your homework, you ended up seeing all your classmates. All the teachers were really cool and were always willing to help out if you were struggling, and would also sometimes come to the lab during their office hours to help out people who had gathered trying to do the coding homework assigned for the week. Everyone was always really nice.”