Name: Chandler Furman
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Major: Computer Science & Economics
Computer Science at Hopkins
The decision to be a computer science major wasn’t a difficult one for me to make. I was first introduced to programming when I took AP Compsci as a junior in high school, and I loved it from the beginning. I’ve always enjoyed problem solving, and Java was the first class in which I was learning skills that I could apply towards real-world problems. Plus, I got to do it all on my computer. When colleges asked for my intended major on their applications, Computer Science was an easy choice.
It wasn’t until I came to Hopkins when I realized just how many areas of study there are within the field of computer science. As a freshman CS major, I took a 1-credit course called M&M’s. Here, I learned about topics such as language processing, systems, and computer-integrated surgery. I had no idea that computer scientists could write programs to translate languages they had never seen before. I learned that computers were playing an increasingly significant role in surgery, because a machine can move with much more precision than a human hand. My advisor even taught a segment about the work he did to set up wireless networks to stream TV in real time. But while this course introduced me to a few topics in computer science, it was by no means exhaustive.
Whatever you choose to study, a Computer Science background will never hurt. I have friends that are using their programming backgrounds to deal with large data sets in fields such as Biology and Physics. The field of medicine is increasingly looking for programmers to help doctors store massive amounts of data, in the hopes that they can learn about diseases by efficiently analyzing data from the past. In my case, I hope to apply my computer science degree towards business applications by writing software for firms. You will be hard-pressed to find a field that couldn’t use the help of a computer scientist.
If you’re looking things to do as a CS major outside of the classroom, Hopkins has plenty of clubs for you to consider. We have clubs ranging from robotics to IEEE, as well as several clubs for engineers in general. I’ll go ahead and give a shout-out to a couple that are especially big on campus – the first of these is the Bootup Baltimore project. Members of this club visit inner-city Baltimore to teach underprivileged youth how to use computers. Another prominent club is the Johns Hopkins chapter of the Association for Computational Machinery (JHU ACM). The ACM holds meetings each week where students can go to learn about topics in computer science, and organizes off-campus activities for its members. The ACM also has its own office in the New Engineering Building, where students can go to study, play with their gadgets, or just relax. All of these clubs are a great way to get involved in the Hopkins community while serving as an outlet for your interest in computers.
Hopkins is a great place to be for incoming computer science majors. JHU is known for its wealth of undergraduate research opportunities, including in the field of computer science. Since the department is fairly small at Hopkins, it is easy to approach professors about research and hopefully get a position. Or, if you can’t find a position within the CS department, you can always take your programming skills and use them in a research position in another field. Most exciting is the recent news of a new building for the computer science building. It is expected to open in Fall, 2014 (the semester after I graduate L), but should be a great milestone for the computer science department at Hopkins. The Hopkins CS department at Hopkins is fantastic, and I can only see it getting better in the near future.
When you first think of “Computer Science Schools,” you probably don’t initially think of Hopkins – I know that I didn’t when I was looking at colleges. But if you decide that CS is something you’re interested in, I would urge you to consider applying here. We have a great program with some stellar faculty, and coming to Hopkins will open plenty of doors for you, both during your time here and after graduation. If you love this school half as much as I do, you won’t regret your decision to come here. Best of luck in your upcoming college applications!